Friday 9 September 2016

Match preview: United v City

Fierce local rivals United and City go into the 172nd all-Manchester meeting on maximum points ahead of the most eagerly anticipated derby in years.

The bitter and intense nature of the rivalry on the pitch needs no introduction, but it's the men in the dugout rather than those on the pitch that have proved to be much of the focus in the build up to this one.

Saturday sees two of the most revered bosses in the current game reignite a feud that originates from their time in La Liga.
United manager Jose Mourinho, formerly of Real Madrid, and his Catalan counterpart Pep Guardiola- ex coach of Barcelona- used to lock horns in El Clasico and their relationship with each other was often less than cordial with so much at stake.

Not since 2012 and that Vincent Kompany goal (moving on...) has there been such a derby of such importance.
Although the season is still in its infancy, a win here would give the victors the chance to throw down a gauntlet and open up a three-point gap over the other with both sides boasting a 100% record so far. 

Something has to give here, however, and the absence of City's star striker Sergio Aguero through suspension arguably makes us slight favourites.
Kelechi Iheanacho is likely to start in the Argentine's absence while summer signings Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo all look set for their debuts for the new-look visitors. 

Mourinho has a fully squad to pick from despite doubts over several players during the international break, and the United boss said:

"I know what a derby means for everyone as I have experience many different derbies in many different cities.
"For me, it is important to be in emotional control because it is just another game against a very strong and difficult opponent.
"Sergio Aguero will not play, I have heard many people say that is good for my team but I don't think so because when he plays we know their formation and how they will play.
"He doesn't play and they have amazing options, he could decide to play with Iheanacho or Sterling as a number nine so we have to reduce the unpredictability and to do this now is more difficult.
"Everybody is available, Micki probably cannot play 90 minutes but he can help us, there are no injuries."

Marcus Rashford became the youngest scorer in the fixture's history with the winner at the Etihad in March the last time the teams met. 

Match odds: United 11/8 Draw 9/4 City 12/5
Form guide: United W W W City W W W 

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Co.Durham)

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