Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is hoping that Casemiro will win the fitness test to be available for Sunday’s crunch Manchester derby with ‘noisy neighbours’ City
Manchester United host arch-rivals and champions Manchester City at Old Trafford in what is the 191st Manchester derby on Sunday.
United manager Erik ten Hag says it's a fixture the whole world will be watching.
Ten Hag has revealed Casemiro is in a 'race against the clock' to make the Manchester derby.
The eyes of the footballing world will be on Old Trafford this Sunday afternoon as treble winners Manchester City look to end the Red Devils' unconvincing three-game winning streak in all competitions.
United have stumbled to those victories against Brentford, Sheffield United and Copenhagen, with a vastly improved performance required if they are to lay a glove on Pep Guardiola's men.
The midfield battle looks key and Ten Hag says his side may be missing Casemiro for a third straight game, with an ankle injury sustained on Brazil duty putting his place in jeopardy.
"Aaron [Wan-Bissaka is back] in training today [Friday] and Case is a race against the clock," Ten Hag said. "No, not 100 per cent."
Casemiro had trained ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash against Copenhagen - a group match he was unable to play in due to suspension.
The Red Devils were made to sweat in a narrow 1-0 victory against the Danish champions, with Andre Onana producing a stoppage-time penalty save that saw the under-fire goalkeeper mobbed by team-mates.
And Sunday's game is one that could define United's mood at a key stage of the season.
"Definitely you see we are back where we wanted to be in that this is a hard team to beat," Ten Hag said. "They find a way to win, so we are going in the right direction.
"I think it's a match above many other derbies. It's so huge because it's Manchester, internal.
"But I think it's also about world football and all the eyes will be on this game global wide.
"They're six points ahead, we're six points back, so we have to catch up. We know we have to progress the team, so we have to make developments."
While revenge may be on the minds of Erik ten Hag’s players, they also need to concentrate on reviving their poor start to the season, as United languish in eighth ahead of this round.
An emotionally charged evening in the UCL in midweek certainly stoked the fire, as Harry Maguire headed United ahead before under-fire Onana saved a 97th-minute penalty to seal the victory.
That win was their sixth this campaign by a one-goal margin, as was their 2-1 success in last season’s corresponding fixture on this ground, albeit the fixture was best remembered for the controversy surrounding Bruno Fernandes’ equaliser.
Manchester City will therefore be looking to avoid losing successive trips to Old Trafford, a fate they’ve not suffered since February 2011. At that stage, City were yet to win their first Premier League title, while they’ve now claimed the crown seven times, sitting second only to United in that regard (13).
Pep Guardiola’s men are now chasing a feat that the Red Devils never managed however, as they could win a fourth successive title this year, a cause that would be greatly helped with victory over their arch-rivals.
After a wobble before the international break, Pep Guardiola’s men are looking more like themselves again with a pair of back-to-back wins. A 3-1 victory over Young Boys in midweek was far from straightforward, but winning away is certainly a good sign for City given that they’d lost three of their prior four matches on the road, including both of their last two league trips.
When and where to watch
The match will be live on SuperSport TV.
Manchester United predicted XI: Onana; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Reguilon; Casemiro, Amrabat; Fernandes, Mount, Rashford; Hojlund.
Manchester City predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Gvardiol; Rodri, Silva; Grealish, Alvarez, Foden; Haaland