Verdict: Both teams to score – yes
Premier League action returns after the international break with a game entire football-loving community is talking about. Manchester derby brings more than local rivalry – this year in particular – with fierce enemies Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola facing each other for the first time since their highly anticipated meetings in the Spanish La Liga.
Jose Mourinho’s arrival has brought plenty of positive changes, not only to Manchester United’s style of play, but to the team’s atmosphere and mentality. It’s been a busy summer at the Old Trafford with Manchester United making world-class additions to their squad in the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba above all. Former PSG striker has been a momentary influence to the team, making a huge impact with his dominant and empowering performances, while the world-record return of former Juventus midfielder Pogba has been romanticized to such extent that it has helped the club restore the family feeling United have lacked over the last couple of years. Heavy squad investments have been a gigantic message of intent and with all three wins in the new season, the Red Devils want to continue with their strong start against the local rivals as well. Three points from the clash against Citizen would be a huge morale boost and a massive incentive in United’s run for the Premier League title, while the possible set-back can put a dent into team’s confidence early on. Therefore, the significance of the forthcoming Derby of Manchester is immense.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan limped out of international duty with a thigh problem and will be forced to miss the Manchester derby. Left back Luke Shaw is a huge doubt after he was forced to fly home from England duty as a precaution over his calf problem.
Antonio Valencia is another selection dilemma as Ecuador international does not arrive back to England until just 24 hours before Saturday’s game and his availability after a long journey will raise serious doubts.
Much to the similarity of their local rivals, Manchester City have had an equally brilliant start to the new season. The arrival of former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has spurred the team forward and brought huge changes in team’s style of play. Not everybody were able to adapt to the new circumstances however and along with numerous big-name arrivals to the Etihad, there has been a surprising departure. Manchester City’s first-choice goalkeeper over the past few years Joe Hart was forced out with Guardiola being unhappy with England shot stopper’s inability to convert his style of play into a sweeper keeper he had in Manuel Neur in Munich. Hart was loaned out to Serie A side Torino, while Claudio Bravo arrived from Barcelona to take his place in the team. Tectonic changes have yielded results as Manchester City have notched nothing but wins in the new season both internationally and in the Premier League. Pep Guardiola has managed to outsmart Mourinho on plenty occasions in the past and will look to do the same this weekend. The circumstances are now different however and Derby of Manchester promises to be a highly unpredictable affair.
Bacary Sagna has picked up a knock to his hamstring prior to the international break and Saturday’s match might arrive too soon for the French international. The biggest problem for Manchester City will be Sergio Aguero’s suspension though.
Injury-plagued team captain Vincent Kompany continues to struggle, while summer signings Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan will hope to get involved to some extent having both recovered from their respective injuries.
Key Factors to Consider
- United won only one of last 5 Manchester Derbies played at Old Trafford
- Total worth of talent involved in Saturday’s derby could come close to £700m
- Mourinho and Guardiola worked together at Barcelona from1996 to 2000
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 4 goals in 4 matches for United
- Man City are without their key man Sergio Aguero
Pick of the week in the Premier League is drawing plenty of attention and there is no doubt that both teams will look to be at their best in the first Manchester derby of the season, which can be a huge morale boost for whoever wins it. Mourinho and Guardiola’s rivalry just adds up a different dimension to the already highly anticipated match and we are certain that both managers will go heads in the upcoming game.
Verdict: Both teams to score – yes