It’s exactly as we all predicted, you spend the most money so you should be top of the league? All the talk is about power shifts in different cities, but they haven’t realised that the two Manchester clubs separated by 4 miles have set standards reminiscent of Premier league rivals in the early 2000s. Both teams were miles of meeting their managers expectations in their first season last year as they went through their growing pains. With differing approaches they have set themselves apart from the rest of the league this season. After a difficult first season Mourinho has changed the flaky, wasteful United team into a physically imposing and ruthless machine. Pep needed a bit of bedding in of tactics but now the results are worth the wait. At the moment they are the in-form team in Europe with the chance to put one finger on the Premier League trophy this early in the season.
Ever since the sheikhs took control of the Etihad this derby has been growing in stature but this weekend will be the first super derby between the two. Liverpool have always been the biggest game of the seaaon historically and during the Sir Alex Ferguson days City were never a European force. Since his retirement both teams have won the league but have underachieved. This season feels different, the mood around the club’s is different, expectations have changed, opposition teams look content to lose by a couple of goals. Credit to both managers who have set a standard in the Premier League which has been lacking for the past few seasons. It seems like both managers are competitive brothers with different mindsets, but secretly respect each other. All the accolades Pep has received over the years has annoyed Mourinho who was the media favourite when he first burst onto the scene. For Pep to come over to England where many have questioned his suitability to be successful and dominate where Mourinho has won trophies would grate him.
How will both teams approach the game? Exactly as we would all expect, City are looking to break a Premier League record 14 game winning streak. United will allow them to control the game and look to see if they can counter. The approach United displayed at the Emirates was the perfect Mourinho counter attacking performance. Four shots on target and 3 goals was ruthless and efficient. Before the game many questioned the attacking quality they posses in big games but as predicted Pogba’s presence made a big difference creating from midfield. His quality on the ball meant that the attacking players could receive the ball quicker and run at the defence which was clear to see at the Emirates. He will be a big miss for the team but it could mean that Herrera will be the given the man marking role like he had last season. Will Mourinho resort to this tactic at home against the ‘noisey neighbours’.
Credit where it’s due, United are unbeaten at home stretching 40 games which shouldn’t be taken for granted. Ironically the last loss was against City, who outplayed United. The key man for United will be the resurgent Martial who has now earnt the trust of Mourinho after a difficult season last year. In the absence of Pogba he has to be the man to attack City’s defence and make their fullback think twice about pushing forward. He has to be the outball for the team to push up the field because if that doesn’t happen eventually City will break you down. Although they have improved majorly at the back, they aren’t the best defence in the league and can be weak especially from set plays. This may be an area which Mourinho will be looking to exploit with the physical presence that his team has.
This is probably the biggest game in the Premier League since the two played each other at the end of the 2012 season. It feels like City have transformed as a super club from the ‘noisey neighbours’. They will have the majority of possession and will win if United don’t push them back. Lukaku has to stand up and make an impact on the game, he still hasn’t scored this season against a top 6 opponent. Going through the predicted starting lineups, City have the better team and should be looking to dominate the league. United need to get fans onside by being confident on the ball and attacking with intent, they may not have a lot of the ball but if they provide a threat the fans will give them an edge. All in all this will be a great game and one that will have big consequences for the title race. Sit back relax with your friends to watch a true heavyweight collision.
Man Utd 2 – 1 Man City
Who do you think will win? Pep or Mourinho? Who is the better team?
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