On Sunday afternoon Manchester takes centre stage, as United make the short trip across town to face the champions, City. Here’s a look at five of the best Manchester Derbies, hosted by the Sky Blues, in the Premier League era:
Man City 3 – 1 Man Utd (Anelka 5’, Goater 26’ & 50’ / Solskjær 8’)
It was the last ever derby at Maine Road and the Citizens would claim their first win over United since the Premier League formed. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men would go on to win the title and City would finish ninth, but on this day, Manchester was blue. Some familiar faces lined up against United with Peter Schmeichel, Kevin Keegan, and Nicolas Anelka all representing the Sky Blues.
And it was the former Arsenal striker that broke the deadlock after dispossessing Rio Ferdinand on the half way line, and following up after Fabien Barthez spilled Shaun Goater’s effort. United’s baby faced assassin levelled the scores moments later, but the game changed when Gary Neville gifted Goater the chance to put City ahead.
Just after half-time, Gary’s brother – Phil – lost the ball, and Eyal Berkovic’s superbly weighted pass teed up Goater, who fired home to claim his 100th goal in a Manchester City shirt and earn the Citizens the bragging rights.
Man City 0 – 1 Man Utd (Scholes 93’)
United were chasing down a fourth straight title and City were fighting for a place in the Champions League, as the teams collided with less than five games to play in the middle of April. Having been to two consecutive Champions League finals, the Red Devils were proving to be a formidable opponent on the road.
The hosts had already suffered two stoppage time goals in derbies that season: Michael Owen won a thrilling 4-3 derby at Old Trafford; whilst Wayne Rooney’s stoppage-time header in the league cup gave the visitors a 4-3 semi-final win, and denied their rivals their first major cup final since 1981.
This time it was Paul Scholes deep into ‘Fergie time’ with a guided header just inside the far post. United would fall short of the title by one point, but this win earned Scholes a memorable kiss from an elated Gary Neville.
Man City 2 – 3 Man Utd (Touré 60’, Zabaleta 86’/ Rooney 16’ & 29’, van Persie 92’)
Four years after beating City to the signing of Dimitar Berbatov, United pipped their neighbours to sign Robin van Persie. His first season at Old Trafford saw him claim the Golden Boot with 26 goals having played all 38 league games, and reach 30 goals across all competitions.
Roberto Mancini’s men had dramatically snatched the Premier League out of United’s grasp in stoppage-time the year before thanks to Sergio Agüero. But with van Persie leading their charge, the Red Devils would return to the summit of English football.
Two acute finishes from Rooney between the legs of Gareth Barry and Kolo Touré gave the United the lead, but excellent strikes from Yaya Touré and Pablo Zabaleta looked to have secured the hosts a late point. However, when Carlos Tevez inadvertently fouled Rafael, van Persie was presented with a free-kick in stoppage time.
It wasn’t his cleanest strike of the ball, but off Samir Nasri’s outstretched boot, van Persie’s shot deflected past a helpless Joe Hart to condemn the defending champions to their first home defeat in the top flight in two years.
Man City 2 – 3 Man Utd (Kompany 25’, Gündoğan 30’/ Pogba 53’ & 55’, Smalling 69’)
Last year, City earned their first title under Pep Guardiola in emphatic style, breaking all types of records, including: most points (100), most away points (50), most points ahead of second (19), most wins (32), most away wins (16), most goals (106), best goal difference (+79) and most consecutive victories (18).
They also equalled the record for the earliest Premier League title win with five games to spare, but that record should really have been broken. Welcoming their rivals with a chance to secure the title on derby day, the Sky Blues raced into a two-goal lead in the first 30 minutes.
Vincent Kompany outmanoeuvred Chris Smalling to put the hosts ahead, and İlkay Gündoğan doubled the lead with a lovely turn inside the box. Ahead of the derby, Guardiola had claimed that he had been offered Paul Pogba by the Frenchman’s agent. United’s number six responded with one of his best performances in a Red shirt, scoring two goals in two minutes to give United parity.
Smalling then made amends for his earlier error by coolly slotting home Alexis Sánchez’s free-kick to score the winner, and inflict City’s only loss at home in the league that season.
Man City 1 – 0 Man Utd (Kompany 45’)
The most decisive derby between two of the current powerhouses in English football saw Vincent Kompany settle matters with a towering header, after again beating Chris Smalling in an aerial dual.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men held a three-point advantage with just three games to go ahead of their trip to the Etihad. City had demolished United 6-1 in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford. A draw would’ve suited the Red Devils, who played to contain the hosts with Rooney deployed as a lone striker up front.
It was a game a few chances, and that will only be remembered for the City’s captain scoring the winning goal from a set-piece. That year, the league was decided on goal difference. Those three points, alongside Agüero’s final day heroics, changed the landscape of future Manchester derbies.
The Citizens had become more than just the noisy neighbours, they had arrived as the champions of England, and one of the teams that would be contending for future silverware on a regular basis.