Thursday 8 September 2016

Why United have edge over City in biggest derby for years

In 2011, Vincent Kompany scored what could be considered a title-winning goal in the Manchester derby in a 1-0 win.

Since then, the derby has not felt as heated or as decisive with the fate of the Premier League title not significantly resting on its outcome.

After derbies with two passive managers in Manuel Pellegrini and Louis van Gaal manning the dugouts, both sets of supporters find themselves with two of the most sought after bosses in the game in Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.

Both are serial winners and are in charge of the two Premier League favourites for the championship crown, so a contest in which one can gain an early three-point advantage - on top of the existing hostilities - is absolutely pivotal.

City have scored the most goals in the league so far but United, unsurprisingly for a Mourinho team, boast the best defensive record so a superbly balanced contest should await us. 

Daley Blind is starting to hear praise from fans and media alike after being an under-rated gem for us in a now prolonged period.
He has formed a very impressive centre-back pairing with Eric Bailly who has started life in England outstandingly with man of the match showings in all but one of his games.
What Blind lacks in power, pace and strength, Bailly makes up for and the historically rash and reckless Ivorian is compensated for by the composure and coolness of the Dutchman.

It's a perfectly harmonised defensive pairing.

United should be confident in those two, alongside in-form full backs Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia in nullifying City's attacking exploits.

In a match that was billed as a battle of the world class strikers, one side losing their key forward is a blow to their chances.
As usual, Argentinian Aguero is already City's top scorer this season and, with Kelechi Iheanacho as their only other option, it will be intriguing to see what Pep Guardiola does without his main goal threat.

Perhaps he could experiment with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Nolito and Raheem Sterling as a 'false nine' meaning the United defence will have less of a focal point to deal with.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a difference maker on his own so the three aforementioned names won't strike too much fear into a typically solid and blossoming Mourinho defensive unit. 

In a contest this tightly matched, the midfield is usually where the match is won or lost.
One bamboozling run, one piece of magic to unlock a defence or perhaps in turn one key lapse in concentration from a defensive standpoint could prove key.

With a 4-2-3-1 vs 4-1-4-1, it's one going to be one five-man midfield against another.

If Guardiola does continue with the system, Mourinho's men could have the edge.
Fernandinho has been deployed as a lone holding midfielder with two creative players in front not renowned for upholding defensive duties in David Silva and de Bruyne.

For us, the guile, trickery and lung-busting energy of Paul Pogba has been somewhat surprisingly complimented by a powerfully, tactically disciplined and reborn Maroaune Fellaini.

United's midfield axis has the ability to counteract the impact of City's mesmeric passing with Fellaini and the ability to propel the team forward on the counter with Pogba.
The stark difference in height, power and physicality could prove the difference in a game which needs quick turnovers in possession and legs to drive the team forward. 

If we see the defensive assuredness and attacking fluidity we've already enjoyed this season, then we could see Jose and the Reds put down a marker and show why we won't settle for anything less than top spot this term. 

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