Written by: Siddesh Iyer
The Manchester Derby: Two of football’s primary colours, two fierce rivals, two warring managers, it’s United v City and the ultimate battle for Premier League supremacy. This fixture definitely isn’t “just another football match”! Come Saturday, Old Trafford in Manchester would play battleground to the 172nd edition of one of the fiercest battles in the world of football that is “fought” every year. So what’s so special about the 172nd Manchester Derby looking from the Manchester United point of view? Let’s check the intensity of this battle in depth:
1. Josè v Pep!
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Do I need to say more? The mere imagination of these two managerial stalwarts going head-to-head in the Theatre of Dreams would make any Premier League fan jump up with enthusiasm. One is as ingenious a man as the footballing world can witness i.e Josè Mourinho and other, most definitely his match in a rival sense i.e. Pep Guardiola! Mourinho believes in a pragmatic approach to the game wherein defensive solidarity and crisp counter attacks are pivotal. Guardiola, on the other hand desires the complete game where the style of play is more important than just getting the win. However, the complete game strategy backfires 9 times out of 10 when playing against Josè’s teams and City could be in real trouble in the Manchester Derby when the United attack unleashes “all out counter attack” on an “improving” City defence.
2. Pep’s greatest NEMESIS:
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Zlatan is in Manchester! And quite frustratingly for Pep Guardiola, he’s wearing RED!
“Where Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola draws the curtains!”- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan and Josè together in one team is definitely Pep’s worst dream come true! With a phenomenal record of scoring 41 goals in all league games he’s played since the start of last season, Zlatan is undoubtedly United’s most lethal weapon! The extra incentive of getting one over his greatest foe might just fuel up the maverick Swede leading to a stellar performance on the big stage. Zlatan has shown over the years that he’s the man for the big occasion and all the indications sway towards an ominous afternoon for City and United might just add up another pivotal Derby win!
3. Strategic insight, Probable Teams and Prediction:
credit colledog mac
Strategy: Pragmatism redefined! Josè will leave no stone unturned in exploiting every nook and corner of City’s weaknesses and putting Pep Guardiola’s team to the sword. Zlatan Ibrahimovic up against a relatively inexperienced John Stones might trouble City the entire afternoon. Pace on the wings and an aerial threat from the entire Man Utd squad might be pivotal in United getting all 3 points.
Probable Starting XI: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Blind, Shaw, Pogba, Fellaini, Martial, Mata, Rooney(c), Ibrahimovic.
Strategy: Not many defensive frailties at United that City can exploit, but Pep would try to reduce United’s attacking threat and keep the ball, thereby increasing City’s chances of attacking the United goal. However, the chances of the “complete game plan” succeeding seem slim given Josè’s mastery over the pragmatic game. Sergio Agüero being banned for 3 games also leaves the City attack looking a bit toothless.
Probable Starting XI: Bravo, Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Zabaleta(c), Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Sterling, Nolito, Silva, Iheanacho.
PREDICTION: UNITED 2–1 CITY
What are your predictions for the game? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by colledog mac