Jose Mourinho and United are on a roll. Two consecutive wins at the death [might] mean Jose’s United players are finally getting the message meanwhile Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are also ticking along nicely and are scoring goals in the bucketful.
But even before the first whistle and the first tackle, the derby temperature has been ratcheted up because Anthony Taylor has been appointed to referee the match. And the furore is because Taylor is an Altrincham fan, from Wythenshawe, a Manchester United stronghold.
Despite the gulf in personalities of the managers, they have one thing in common – they are serial winners. Whilst Guardiola won the English Premier League title in his second year at Manchester City, Mourinho is yet to taste victory in the red half of Manchester in his third season.
Teams are built in the image of the managers and that is where the divide is deeply entrenched. Guardiola plays swashbuckling football that wows the neutrals while Mourinho’s teams are normally powerfully effective teams, built to subvert the opponent’s strategy before destroying them.
In as much as people love the spectacle of Guardiola’s playing philosophy, Mourinho has his fans because he is experienced, and knows how to win.
It has been tight in their last five meetings, United coming from a two-goal deficit to beat City 3-2 at the Etihad last season and Nemanja Matic does not expect it to be any easier on Sunday. “We have to stop them in their attacks, there is a way to do it and the manager knows that. We will prepare for the game. I expect a hard game but, in a derby, everything is possible, and we will be ready for that.”
City will be without Kevin de Bruyne while Lukaku is expected to return to the matchday squad.
Three Duels to watch
David Silva v Paul Pogba
David Silva is the main conduit for City’s attacks and he achieves this with an excellent positioning in between the lines, a phenomenon Pogba will have to concentrate fully to help United douse. As much as ensuring the gate is shut, the World Cup-winning midfielder will have to gallop forward to help Martial open up the City defence.
Raheem Sterling v Ashley Young
Sterling is one of the most improved players in the world and is now a potent attacking weapon for Guardiola down the left flank where Ashley Young will be stationed. His speed could mean Young is stationed permanently at the back to negate any fast break from City.
Kyle Walker v Anthony Martial
Martial has been the best United player in the last month with goals coming in almost every match and City defender, Walker, likes to attack down the right flank leaving space behind for Martial to exploit. It is a surety that United will be looking to access the City backline using Martial’s pace and trickery while the forward-thinking Walker bombs forward.
“They were able to win in Turin. Juventus are so strong. Apart from 10-15 minutes after the goal from Cristiano (Ronaldo) they were so stable. They are aggressive without the ball, everybody runs in front, everybody runs backwards.” – Pep Guardiola, Manchester City Manager
“We have to make sure that we grow up,” Jose continued. “Not just in our approach, because that I think is clear that the team is growing up, but we also have to grow up in our compactness and to start matches well, which I have to say, against Juventus, it happened.” – Jose Mourinho, Manchester United Manager
Man. City: Ederson; Walker, Laporte, Stones, Mendy; Fernandinho, D. Silva; B. Silva, Sterling, Mahrez; Aguero
Man. Utd: De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Martial, Rashford; Sanchez
Current Form: Man. City [W-W-W-W-W]; Man. Utd [W-W-W-L-D]
Head to head
Sat 07/04/18 PRL Man. City 2 – 3 Man. Utd
Sun 10/12/17 PRL Man. Utd 1 – 2 Man. City
Fri 21/07/17 ICC Man. Utd 2 – 0 Man. City
Thu 27/04/17 PRL Man. City 0 – 0 Man. Utd
Wed 26/10/16 LEC Man. Utd 1 – 0 Man. City
Prediction: Man. City 3-1 Man. Utd