Saturday 10 September 2016

United's aerial power will be key to unsettling new look City

This Manchester derby will not define the season for either United or City but it is a chance for both sides- and the managers- to show they are a force to be reckoned with.

It is already clear that both will be in the mix for the title and both will want to put down a marker and make a statement of intent.

What adds even more spice to an already highly-charged occasion is that Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola both go into their much-anticipated first meeting in England with 100% records having each won their opening three matches.

Kelechi Iheanacho, Nolito or possibly even a rejuvenated Raheem Sterling could lead City's attack in place of the suspended Sergio Aguero but Guardiola has some other big calls to decide upon.

New goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has played in plenty of big games for Barcelona and Chile but has hardly trained and is lacking match fitness so it would be a gamble to hand him a debut in the cauldron of an Old Trafford derby.

The height and power of Zlatan Ibrahimovic will make this a big test for City's entire defence not just their goalkeeper.

United under Mourinho get the ball into the box far quicker and far more often that we were doing last season.
The reason for this is the aerial threat that we possess- not just through Ibrahimovic but also the physical prowess of Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini.
We will play the same way against City- looking to get the ball out wide and then crossing it into the box for someone to get a head on it.

Ibrahimovic has done that to perfection so far, he's great at reading the cross and timing his jump above the defence and his marker while  his power and accuracy does the rest.

The clamour for Mourinho to include in-form Marcus Rashford from the start has been growing after his debut hat-trick for the England Under 21s but, with everyone fit for Saturday, it would not surprise me if Mourinho retains him for the role of impact sub.

That first start is not far away but I don't think Mourinho will feel there's any need to change his line-up but Rashford has kept scoring and it's getting harder and harder to leave him out. 

Mourinho's United side will be quite content to sit back and try to hit City on the break and if City keep pushing their full-backs up to flood midfield then they might be open to the quick counter-attack.

We know what we're going to do when we push forward - put those balls into the box with pace - but we don't know yet if City will be able to deal with it.

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