Despite snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the corresponding match last season and in their two most recent matches, Jose Mourinho admits Manchester United cannot keep coming from behind ahead of a test against rivals Manchester City today.
Mourinho’s side were 2-1 winners in Juventus in the Champions League last week, ending their Italian hosts’ unbeaten start in all competitions, but have conceded the first goal in recent games several times – including against Chelsea, Huddersfield and Newcastle in the Premier League.
United have picked up seven points from losing positions so far in the league, but their manager admits their luck will run out at some point – and hopes it does not happen in the Manchester derby.
Mourinho says his Manchester United team are ‘growing up’ but admits they need to start scoring first in more games.
He said: “If we keep conceding goals before the opponent, it will arrive the day where we cannot come back. So, we have to make sure we grow up not just in our approach – because I think that is clear that the team is growing up.
“But also we have to grow up in our compactness and to start matches well. Which, I have to say against Juventus, happened.”
Pep Guardiola will be wary of United’s resilience already, having witnessed his City team throw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to their neighbours at the Etihad in this fixture last season.
He said: “Last season we lost, but every game is a new history and a new chapter. We realise how strong United are. When they dominate and create chances they win easily, but you can have the feeling you are in control and they can still punish you.
“It’s Manchester United – with Liverpool, they are one of the strongest teams in England’s history. I hope it can be a good derby and we can enjoy watching it.”
Romelu Lukaku could return to action for United today.
The 25-year-old missed the trips to Bournemouth and Juventus with a hamstring complaint but will be assessed as the striker steps up training.
City have won just two of their last eight matches against United in all competitions (D2 L4) since winning four in a row between 2013 and 2014.
United, who won 3-2 at the Etihad last season despite being 0-2 down, are looking to win back to back Premier League games at the stadium for just the second time, also doing so with wins in November 2008 and April 2010.
Premier League meetings between City and United have been won by the away side on 17 occasions – only Aston Villa vs Liverpool (19) and Everton vs Man Utd (18) have been won by the visiting team more.
United have conceded 18 goals in their 11 Premier League games this season. It took them 25 games until January 31 to concede as many in the competition last season.
City haven’t lost any of their last 53 Premier League games against sides starting the day outside the top four (W44 D9 L0), since a 0-4 loss at Everton in January 2017.
City’s Raheem Sterling is still yet to score against Manchester United in the Premier League, attempting 19 shots in 12 games without success; among players with at least 50 Premier League goals, only Robbie Keane (22) has played more times against the Red Devils without scoring than Sterling.
City’s Sergio Aguero scored seven goals in his first seven Premier League games against Man Utd, but has failed to score in his last three against them since.
Anthony Martial has scored in each of his last four Premier League games for Man Utd – he could become the seventh different player to score in five or more in a row for the club in the competition (Ruud van Nistelrooy x4, Wayne Rooney x2, Eric Cantona, Dwight Yorke, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin van Persie).
This will be the 22nd meeting between Guardiola and Mourinho in all competitions – the Spaniard has won nine and lost five (D7) of the previous 21. He’s only lost more matches against Jurgen Klopp (7) than Mourinho (5) during his managerial career.
Guardiola has never lost consecutive home league games against a single opponent in his whole managerial career.