United and City will clash on Saturday in what will be a touchline reunion of some sorts between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. And it’s definitely going to be cracker of a game.
Both managers are known to be master tacticians and have equipped their sides well enough to contest for the title.
Considered to be the most favorites for the EPL top prize, the duo can start deciding that by putting up a great performance come weekend, and here are some things to expect.
Predicted Starting Lineup
With Sergio Aguero suspended for the game following F.A’s retrospective action for a supposed elbow on West Ham’s Winston Reid prior to the international break, Guardiola will miss the impact of his goal monster and settle for a plan B.
The Red Devils, like their city rivals began the season in high spirits, maintaining an 100% win heading into the break, and with an inch-perfect squad needing no tweak for the top of the table clash, the regular starting 11 will most likely be fielded again.
Here is how both sides will likely lineup.
De Gea; Luke Shaw; Eric Bailly; Daley Blind; Valencia; Pogba; Fellaini; Martial; Rooney; Rashford; Zlatan
Bravo; Sagna; Otamendi; Stones; Clichy; Fernandinho; Gundogan; Sterling; Silva; De Bruyne; Nolito
Battle of the Tactical geniuses
Having faced each other during their La Liga days and also in the Champions League, Pep and Mou always seem to have various game plans in their heads whenever they face each other.
And both will always come up with visible tweaks to the game play every other minute, after every goal conceded or scored.
We will be seeing that again on Saturday.
Both will draw out properly planned substitution but will quickly change it and switch the plans if the need arises.
There is also the desire to have that psychological advantage over one another, and whatever the result is eventually, it will say a lot as far as a tilt in the early title race narrative goes.
A win for Pep at Old Trafford and it would deflate Jose’s ego. A loss and the Catalan will wake up every other night to watch the replay and fish out what went wrong to fix it.
Both are obsessed with outsmarting the other and that obsession will hit an all-time high this season, starting on Saturday.
A tense on-pitch affair
Mark Clattenburg has a lot on his hands ahead of this game as it will be as tense as they come given the nature of derbies.
Apart from the frequent gesticulating that will be going on the touch lines, the players will be trying to prove their worth and value with every touch, tackle, pass, flick and trick.
Pogba and Zlatan want to make statements of intents with their attacking skills, while Stones and Bravo on the other end want to neutralize them.
Bailly and Blind will want to do exactly the same to the attacking prowesses Sterling, De Bruyne and Nolito hope to display.
It will all boil down to which side makes the best of their chances at the end of the day.