Saturday’s match at Old Trafford brings together two great rivals, both on the pitch and on the sidelines. The 155th Manchester derby in league play between Manchester United and Manchester City will certainly be another momentous occasion, especially with both teams coming into the contest with unblemished Premier League records thus far this season.
However, now there is a bit more drama added by the men leading the two clubs.
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola meet for the first time in England, and pick up their El Clasico rivalry where it left off in La Liga.
Each have done an impressive job of modifying the existing roster in place and getting the best out of their squad. Both sides feature some of the best footballers in the world and fans should expect to see a quality contest.
A strong start to the 2016-17 season has been greatly attributed to the Red Devils new forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swedish legend found a late winner against Leicester City in the FA Community Shield and has three goals in his first three Premier League matches as well. He has linked up well in attack with Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, and appears comfortable in his new surroundings.
Fellow new signing Paul Pogba brings a strong upgrade to the United midfield and will look to get forward often. One of the key strengths for Mourinho in the early stages of this season has been the stellar play of his central defence. Eric Bially, Daley Blind and goalkeeper David de Gea have been in fine form and have been able to control opposing attacks often.
Manchester City and Pep Guardiola got off to a bumpy start in the Premier League, but seemed to get themselves into gear soon after. Two strong showings in UEFA Champions League qualifying saw City cruise into the group stage of the competition and they won their last two Premier League matches with relative ease.
Sergio Aguero, Nolito, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling have all stood out. Each of the players seems to thrive under the new guidance of Guardiola and the club looked razor sharp against Stoke City and West Ham United.
Aguero’s three-match FA ban for violent conduct leaves Guardiola’s team in some trouble. City will need a strong output from attacking players and a disciplined defence at the back if they are going to be victorious at Old Trafford.
There is a sense that this matchup will see a clash of philosophies. Mourinho’s parked bus against Guardiola’s tiki-taka possession game. But expect to see the Special One go after this one.
With star striker Sergio Aguero out, Jose knows that this match more than ever presents the opportunity for his side to attack.
While his defensive tactics are still present, he has shown already at United that he wants to see a proactive approach to scoring goals. Midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera close down space well and can allow the United attack to flourish.
With the backline playing well and Aguero out, Manchester United and Jose Mourinho will find their first Manchester derby victory together over Manchester City and Pep Guardiola.
UNITED 2 – CITY 1
Roy Emanuel, TFN International Correspondent on 07/09/2016 at 13:33
Follow Roy on Twitter @roy13a