Unsurprisingly, most of the pre-match attention has centred on the two new bosses, the football match a mere side show as two managerial megastars resume their decade long rivalry.
Pep Guardiola, quite rightly, wants to focus on the game at hand but Jose Mourinho will relish the hype that’s building around the city and beyond.
Pep’s teams follow a carefully regimented system, a blueprint on how to play the beautiful game.
That said, they are beatable, a fact Jose has proven in a number of different guises. He’ll know how City will approach the match, and he knows he has the tools to combat them.
City’s attack is weakened by the absence of Aguero but United have so many options in that area which could make all the difference if it’s as tight as many anticipate.
In spite of the money men’s best efforts Rashford remains the name on everyone’s lips, challenging the likes of Mata, Martial and Mkhitarian for a spot on Saturday.
As well as fire power, it’s refreshing to see United going into a derby with physical power as well.
Pep’s City will be dwarfed when they emerge from the tunnel at The Theatre of Dreams. Kompany’s injured, Toure’s finished, and Hart’s in Turin, so United’s spine of De Gea, Bailly, Pobga and Ibra will provide a fairly formidable obstruction to the tiki-taka tactics they’ll be facing.
The Red Devils are a different animal to the last few incarnations. The big names are back for the biggest game this season. And if Zlatan really is the heir to Eric’s throne, a derby goal – or three, is a necessity.
Luke Shaw is available to start his first ever Old Trafford derby despite missing England’s win against Slovakia through injury.
Antonio Valencia will be assessed upon his return from international duty with Ecuador, while new signing Henrikh Mkhitarian is doubtful with an arm injury.
Young forwards Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have both made strong cases for their inclusion following successful international outings, with Player of the Month, Eric Bailly, expected to continue at centre-half.
UNITED’S DERBY STATS:
– United are well on top in the overall head to head stats with 71 wins to City’s 49. (D51).
– Having lost four Premier League Manchester derbies in a row, the Old Trafford club are unbeaten in their last three against their city rivals (W2, D1); keeping a clean sheet in both matches last season.
– However, the Red Devils have lost three of the last five league meetings between the two at Old Trafford (W1, D1) – more defeats than in the previous 29 (W15, D12, L2).
– Skipper Wayne Rooney has scored 11 goals in Manchester derbies, the most in the fixture’s history.
Virtually impossible to predict but with home advantage and an Aguero-less City, United to knick it: 1-0.
Image courtesy of BT Sport via YouTube, with thanks.