Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Excitement builds ahead of 172nd Manchester derby

There may be ten days to go and an international break sandwiched in between but excitement and hype is already building ahead of the 172nd Manchester derby on September 10th.

Although still early in the season and far from the title decider the press love to describe the fixture as, this Old Trafford meeting goes way beyond mere local bragging rights in the most eagerly anticipated encounter for years. 

Subplots and dramas wherever you look, not only is there a bitter and storied rivalry on the pitch and in the stands, but there's also no love lost in the two dugouts as Messrs Mourinho and Guardiola resume their long-running feud.

The two men were often locked at loggerheads during their time in La Liga, often embroiled in a war of words and tempestuous exchanges both verbally and- on the odd occasion- even physically. 

Pep Guardiola was announced as City's new boss in February and from the moment Jose was confirmed as Louis Van Gaal's successor in May, the anticipation of this already high-octane occasion ratcheted up a notch. 

Indeed, it is the relationship between the two bosses that looks set to dominate the headlines in the build-up to the game almost as much as the match itself.

You can almost guarantee that, for the first time since taking charge, we will see mind games from Mr Mourinho.
How Guardiola chooses to respond to his rival's jibes will be equally as interesting.

Sergio Aguero looks set to sit this one out as he faces the prospect of a three-match ban for elbowing West Ham's Winston Reid.

Regardless of the Argentine's absence, City have quality throughout their side and will pose the stiffest test so far for Jose's new-look United side.
Raheem Sterling looks revitalised under Guardiola, Kevin De Bruyne has started the season in fine form and new signing Nolito has also caught the eye in the early stages of the campaign with fellow new boy John Stones also impressing. 

Of course, one thing is already for certain: both sides have had 100% starts to the season so one- or possibly both- of these perfect starts will go at Old Trafford.

The local landscape has ebbed and flowed intriguingly over the last few years, with United having the upper hand in the fixtures under Van Gaal (Played 4, Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 1) but City dominant in the ill-fated David Moyes season (moving on, quickly)...

In Sir Alex's last season, the spoils were split with a win apiece but we had the last laugh after romping to the title by 11 points. 

The first all-Manchester meeting of the season comes after four games barely a month into the new season but, with the eyes of the world on this football mad city, it will be unmissable.

Bring it on!!

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