Erik ten Hag hopes his Manchester United players learn from the “lesson” they were given by Manchester City in the 6-3 demolition in October as the teams prepare to face off again on Saturday at Old Trafford.
Both Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored hat-tricks as City humiliated their rivals at the Etihad Stadium, with substitute Anthony Martial restoring some pride for United with a late double to cut the deficit.
However, United have kicked on from that thumping and are now just four points and two places behind City after a run of four straight league victories.
As Ten Hag’s men chase a Champions League qualification spot, he is hoping United will not repeat the mistakes of that October defeat.
“It was a lesson, we took the lesson and from that point on we have made huge progress,” he told reporters. “We have to prove that (Saturday) on the pitch. Last time we didn’t do well and we have to do it better.
“It is not about that game anymore. It is the past, it is about the future.”
Pep Guardiola’s City have been in mixed form since returning from the World Cup, winning two of their three league games, but also drawing at home to struggling Everton and crashing out of the EFL Cup to Southampton on Wednesday.
Guardiola is expecting a tough game against an improved United.
“The improvement is clear, not just results,” he said. “(There are) a lot of quality players in both sides, top class managers. It will be a good game.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester United – Marcus Rashford
The forward is in red-hot form at the moment and is looking to score in four straight Premier League games for the first time since January 2019. However, he is yet to strike against City in the competition. Can he open his account against them on Saturday?
Manchester City – Erling Haaland
The Norway international bagged a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, and his tally in his first Premier League season is 21 goals from just 16 appearances. He will be hoping he can torment the Red Devils once again here.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Manchester United have lost more Premier League home games against City than they have versus any other opponent (eight), while no side has beaten the Red Devils more often overall in the competition than the Citizens (18, level with Chelsea and Liverpool).
– Manchester City are looking to complete the Premier League double over United for the sixth time, which would be more often than any other side in the competition’s history (Liverpool also five).
– Since and including their win over Liverpool on August 22, no team has won more points in the Premier League than United (35), winning 11 of their 15 games in this time (two draws, two defeats). They had lost each of their four league games before this.
– This will be Guardiola’s 500th game of his top-flight managerial career, taking charge of 152 in La Liga with Barcelona, 102 in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, and this will be his 246th in the Premier League with City. The Spaniard has won 379 of his 499 games to date (76 per cent – D68 L52), with this the most wins and best win rate (100+ games) of any manager in Europe’s big-five leagues since Guardiola’s first top-flight season in 2008-09.
– Both Haaland and Foden scored hat-tricks for City in their 6-3 win over United in the reverse fixture. The last player to score in both Premier League meetings for the Citizens against United in a season was Sergio Aguero (2014-15), and the last Englishman to do so was Shaun Wright-Phillips (2003-04), while no City player has ever scored two or more goals in both league meetings.