It’s fair to say that Manchester United have had a good run since the first Manchester derby of the season.
Here we look back at what has happened to both clubs during the interim…
The first meeting…
The Blues rolled up to Old Trafford at the start of September in a game the media billed at Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola as the old La Liga rivals resumed battle.
Much had been made of comments made by Mourinho while boss of Real Madrid, but Pep wasn’t interested in any of the pre-match hyperbole, instead praising the Reds’ boss, thus diffusing the situation somewhat.
United, like City, had won all their games going into the 173rd Manchester derby.
An FA Community Shield win over Leicester City was followed by wins over Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull City meaning the winners of the game – supposing there was no draw - would go top of the Premier League.
It was a chance to throw down an early marker and City’s blistering start to the game quickly silenced the majority of Old Trafford with the Reds unable to keep the Blues, whose movement and passing was superb, at bay.
There were no more goals and the Blues took the first bragging rights of the season to move three points clear at the top of the table.
What happened next?
United took a few games to recover from the loss, losing to Feyenoord in the Europa League and then 3-1 to Watford the following weekend to complete a miserable spell for Mourinho’s men and when Northampton Town levelled the scores in the EFL Cup tie three days later, things could have got even worse – but the Reds recovered to win 3-1 and things improved thereafter.
After dispatching Leicester City 4-1 at Old Trafford, United drew with Stoke and Liverpool before suffering a chastising 4-0 hammering to Chelsea. The next game was against City in the EFL Cup, but this time it was the Reds who triumphed 1-0 courtesy of Juan Mata’s 54th-minute winner.
After losing 2-1 to Fenerbahce in the Europa League at the start of November, the Reds then went an impressive 17 games unbeaten in all competitions before being beaten 2-1 in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg at the KCOM Stadium – a result that Mourinho refused to acknowledge due to certain events during the game.
That result sent United to the League Cup final – a game that they edged 3-2 against Southampton to land the season’s first domestic silverware.
Ten more unbeaten games followed in all competitions before Chelsea beat the Reds 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup 6th round – but again, defeat was followed by an unbeaten run of nine games going into Thursday’s Manchester derby.
The Reds are now unbeaten in 23 Premier League games – a run that stretches back for more than five months – with only the fact that 11 of those games ended in draws keeping Mourinho’s men just outside the top four for most of the campaign.
The Manchester giants go into this game separated by just one point – the closest the teams have been since the derby last September.
United have spent just six days ahead of the Blues in the Premier League this season – the opening weekend after the Reds beat Bournemouth a day after City’s 2-1 win over Sunderland.