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Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bruyne are star performers for Man U vs Man City, respectively – but who’s more influential for their team? We crunch the numbers…

Man U vs Man City The midfield maestros will face off at Old Trafford on Saturday in the first Manchester derby this season, live on Sky Sports – but which club depends on their talisman most and who will steal the show this weekend?

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Pep Guardiola’s side go into the weekend with momentum after securing qualification from their Champions League group and winning back-to-back league games with clean sheets.

In contrast, United crashed out of Europe’s elite competition and slipped into the Europa League after a 3-2 defeat to RB Leipzig, following mediocre displays to overcome deficits and beat West Ham and Southampton in recent weeks.

But the Premier League top table remains wide open. Both teams have a game in hand and United lead City by a solitary position and point – with the clubs just five and six points adrift from league-leaders Tottenham, respectively.

So the stage is set for Fernandes or De Bruyne to buck or maintain their clubs’ recent fortunes – but which has the greatest influence to do so?

Who leads in the stats?

Rank Name Club Points
1 Heung-Min Son TH
31,315
2 Harry Kane TH
30,700
3 Dominic Calvert-Lewin EVE
28,978
4 Jack Grealish AV
27,342
5 James Ward-Prowse S’TON
24,305
6 Mohamed Salah LIV
23,080
7 Bruno Fernandes MU
22,803
8 Kurt Zouma CHE
21,212
9 James Rodriguez EVE
20,984
10 Sadio Mane LIV
20,499
29 Kevin De Bruyne MC
15,023

The Power Rankings, which rank Premier League players on 35 matchday metrics, suggest Fernandes is leading the way at No 7 in the league – compared with De Bruyne at No 29, after an uncustomary slower start to the season.

Fernandes has played 53 league minutes more than De Bruyne and his crucial influence was epitomised once again when he proved to be the comeback catalyst as a second-half substitute against the Hammers.

De Bruyne was peppering Alphonse Areola’s goal against Fulham – perhaps conscious his two league goals this term have come from 12 yards. In contrast, Fernandes has netted four from open play and converted three penalties.

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Both players primarily patrol the width of the pitch midway inside the opposition half, but Fernandes tends to also drop deeper and attempt more passes than his counterpart – despite United averaging far fewer passes than City as a team.

But De Bruyne leads the way with six assists, having recorded a league-topping 20 last term en-route to scooping the PFA Player of the Year award and ranks behind only Harry Kane for teeing up team-mates this season.

The radar graphics below shows how both players compare with attacking midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues this season, revealing both rank in the top five per cent for passes completed, assists and big chances created.

But Fernandes also ranks among the elite for goals and shots on target. De Bruyne lags behind on those metrics, propped up with his two spot-kicks, but surpasses his counterpart for ball recoveries and attempted dribbles.

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What about goal threat?

Fernandes is yet to score one of his 18 shots from outside the box in the Premier League this season, but it’s a different story inside the penalty area – scoring seven of his 12 shots, including three converted penalties from four attempts.

What about goal threat?

Fernandes is yet to score one of his 18 shots from outside the box in the Premier League this season, but it’s a different story inside the penalty area – scoring seven of his 12 shots, including three converted penalties from four attempts.

Man U vs Man City

De Bruyne has only managed to hit the target four times from 17 attempts on goal inside the opposition box, including three penalty attempts – while many of his efforts from range have also been wayward.

Man U vs Man City

All about assists?

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The lines in the graphic below show the paths of every pass that led to a chance at goal, revealing how Fernandes loves to play raking balls from deep, left-of-centre areas, notching two assists from that delivery this term – in addition to frequently finding team-mates from right-sided corners.

Man U vs Man City
Man U vs Man City
Fernandes looks to unleash the wide forward from deep, as he did here, launching a long ball to assist Marcus Rashford against Newcastle

As for De Bruyne, he often delivers the killer pass from right-of-centre areas and has also recorded two assists from this favoured zone. Notably, he has created seven chances fewer than Fernandes, but, crucially, he has recorded two more assists – suggesting the quality of his chances have been superior.

Man U vs Man City
Man U vs Man City

De Bruyne enjoys a lot of success when he drops into pockets in centre-right areas, as he did here, assisting Benjamin Mendy against Burnley

How does their distribution compare?

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The graphic below shows how Fernandes attempts passes across the width of the pitch in the opposition half, with an increasing concentration towards the left side.

In addition, the direction of his distribution is almost perfectly symmetrical, primarily passing forwards and rarely backwards – while his tendency to launch long balls reduces his passing accuracy.

Man U vs Man City

De Bruyne attempts passes in almost identical areas to Fernandes but the direction of his distribution is more sporadic – frequently looking to pass to his inside-right and, with fewer long passes attempted, registers a slightly higher level of passing accuracy.

Man U vs Man City

The graphic below emphasises how Fernandes attempts far more long balls – typically looking to unleash Marcus Rashford or Mason Greenwood behind defensive lines down the flanks.

Man U vs Man City

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