Jesse Lingard is set to start in the derby on Sunday as Manchester United host rivals Manchester City for the first time this season.
Lingard, who has been at the club since he was seven, has played in the last five derbies, with his team winning twice, drawing twice and losing once.
The best of all those occasions is likely the 1-0 win at the Etihad in 2016. His best mate Marcus Rashford was making just his fourth Premier League appearance and won the game for his boyhood club with a goal after just quarter of an hour.
Rashford should have been awarded a penalty in that game too after Martin Demichelis fouled him in the penalty area. The Argentinian, who had been left on his backside by Rashford in the lead up to the goal, was clearly frustrated by being embarrassed by the teenager and reacted angrily. While replays clearly showed that Demichelis took Rashford out, the defender squared up to Rashford, intimating that he had dived.
The first red shirt on the scene, as City players crowded round, was Lingard. Despite being the smallest of the lot, Lingard got stuck in, pushing the City players away from Rashford.
Having both joined the club when they were seven, they know exactly how the fans feel on derby day, and they have a special bond after graduating from the academy. Their murals are painted on the ‘academy wall’ at Carrington, serving as motivation for the other youngsters making their way up through the ranks.
While Rashford has been the brightest star to come out of the youth system for some time, Lingard has had some fairly special moments in the first team too.
He scored the winning goal in injury time to secure the FA Cup for United in 2016, before scoring in United’s 3-2 win to win the League Cup in 2017.
On Sunday, despite Rashford superior ability, it is likely that Lingard will be the more likely player to start out of the pair. In the no.10 role, playing behind the striker, he has thrived this season.
In all competitions, he has six goals and three assists, working out with a goal or assist every 78 minutes.
Against Arsenal, he was vital to United getting the win, being named Man of the Match despite the extraordinary saves at the other end by David de Gea. Petr Cech and the post denied him a hattrick, as his goals ensured a 3-1 victory at the Emirates.
Jose Mourinho opted to rest Lingard for Tuesday’s Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow, while Rashford played the full 90 minutes. The latter should start the game on the bench but is a great option to have as an impact substitute when the legs of City’s defenders are tiring. His pace and skill gives even the most experienced fullbacks nightmares.
On Friday, Rashford and Lingard were seen in red, black and white Givenchy jackets, with them taking to social media ahead of the derby.
“It might be a battle; it might not be pretty. But if we come out on top, it’s always good for the city of Manchester,” Lingard said. “We need to make sure that Manchester is red at the end of the day.”
United will have a fight on their hands, with their best player, Paul Pogba, suspended. But unlike their rivals, United have local lads in the team who know the importance of winning the Manchester derby like nobody in City’s team, who will be desperate for their team to have the bragging rights of the city.