Men's Team

Wright-Phillips: Derby has come at a good time for City

Shaun Wright-Phillips believes Sunday’s Manchester Derby has come at an opportune moment in City's season.

Guardiola’s men welcome Manchester United to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday 6 March, with kick-off scheduled for 16:30 (UK).

Our last match on home soil ended in a 3-2 defeat to Tottenham, our first Premier League loss since October, but City bounced back with successive victories over Everton and Peterborough.

And Wright-Phillips feels that our response to that setback stands us in good stead ahead of Ralf Rangnick’s side’s visit.

“The way the league’s positioned right now, this game has come at a good time for Manchester City,” the former City midfielder explained.

“I also think the loss to Spurs might have come at a good time as well because City can reset and go again.

“That defeat was a reality check, just to say there’s still a long way to go and not to get too complacent - which I don’t think we were - but results happen that you never see coming.

“Now it’s put the league back in arm’s reach for Liverpool, so the derby coming up is a massive one.”

A win for Guardiola’s men in the first Manchester Derby to be played in front of the Etihad Stadium crowd since January 2020 would propel City six points clear at the Premier League summit.

Conversely, if the visitors were to come out on top, then our lead could be cut to three points with second-placed Liverpool also having played one less match.

It all points towards a potentially huge encounter, and Wright-Phillips agrees that the outcome of this weekend’s tie could influence the Premier League title race.

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He said: “It would be massive (if City were to win). If City come out, blow United away, dominate the game and take some chances, it could put Liverpool on the back foot.

“Liverpool still have to play some top teams, so they have just as hard a run as City.

“There’s just as many places for them to slip up as there are for us.

“I approach the derby as a fan now, but I think that makes it even worse!”

Incredibly, the home side has only come away with a victory in three of the last seventeen encounters between City and United.

However, Wright-Phillips is confident that Guardiola’s men have what it takes to come away with all three points.

Indeed, the former England international has pinpointed a key battle at the Etihad Stadium which he believes could make that happen.

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“The way United play, the combination between high press and counter-attack, it’s set up to be an interesting game,” he reflected.

“(But) we can get the better of them in the midfield, it depends whether he plays, but Anthony Elanga is the tricky obstacle as he likes to get back and help and get inside.

“But you do tend to see spaces left in midfield where McTominay and Fred have to cover too much ground and that’s normally where City are at our strongest.

“If we win that battle, I think we’ll win the game.”

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