Manchester City vs Manchester United Preview

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The stakes could not be higher:

Win- Another victory claimed in the historic Manchester derby, moving us three points closer to securing second place.

Draw- We invite pressure from Liverpool to take second place and even Tottenham to close the gap.

Lose- Simply the unthinkable: Our fiercest rivals, City, will win the Premier League, their third, in the Theatre of Dreams.

The Red Devils will have to play for their lives against Pep Guardiola’s formidable and record-breaking Manchester City side.

To put their season into context, they currently sit at the top of the Premier League, with 84 points from a possible 93.

Not only do they have the chance to set a new record for the highest amount of points won in a single season, Chelsea finished first with 95 points in their championship-winning 2004/5 season under guess who- The Special One.

However, given the monumental result against Liverpool on Wednesday, where Man City lost 3-0, there will be an air of optimism that United can produce a similar performance.

There’s certainly no reason why we can’t play as Liverpool did, we have the calibre of players to defeat City.

Tomorrow’s fixture will be our second time playing Man City this season. Given our previous encounter in the League, we narrowly lost 2-1.

The biggest question that Mourinho will have to answer is whether he decides to sit back and ‘park the bus’ to not only avoid a possible thumping, which no side is immune to given the sheer quality of City’s team. Playing defensive may be necessary to prevent the worst possible outcome: Man City winning the League at Old Trafford.

However, the riskier option would be to approach the game with an attacking formation, aiming to hit City on the counter and press aggressively, just as Liverpool did to such a stunning effect.

Man City are streaks ahead, but are not invincible. They have lost in the League this season- the enthralling 4-3 defeat to Liverpool.

This game is undoubtedly all about Man City’s approach.

How will Pep play it?

With an important second-leg Champions League tie against Liverpool next week, do they select a weaker team by prioritising that game or do they go all out to try and win the Manchester derby?

City do have an Achilles heel: new signing Aymeric Laporte appears to still be adjusting to the pace of the English game. Even their central defenders, Otamendi and Kompany, can be susceptible to mistakes when put under severe pressure. Rashford’s pace and direct runs may turn out to be a useful asset which the Red Devils will need to explore incessantly.

In our last Premier League fixture, we played Swansea and won comfortably. Mourinho deployed a central defensive partnership of Smalling and Lindelof. But this is likely to change, Bailly replacing Lindelof especially considering how uncertain Lindelof has appeared at times.

Against Swansea, Valencia and Young occupied the full-back roles and Mourinho will probably keep them in the starting XI. Going forward, they will be important in nullifying the attacking qualities of Kyle Walker and Leroy Sane on the flanks.

McTominay’s impressive display against Chelsea, may give his manager a selection headache and would be great to see him start another big game.

The Pogba-Matic partnership will be integral against the Premier League’s best midfield this season.

Stopping Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Sane will take some effort.

The front three, which offers so much strength in-depth, will most likely be the same as the previous game: Lingard, Sanchez and Lukaku.

For this particular game, starting Rashford ahead of Sanchez makes more sense because of his direct runs and pace off the ball. Whoever starts, or even if they start together, we can expect a constant goal threat.

The standout performances against Swansea were from Matic and De Gea, who pulled off yet another outrageous save against Tammy Abraham. Both will need to be at their best if we are to have any chance of dismantling such a strong City team.

A special mention must be given to Alexis Sanchez, who silenced many of his critics with a great assist for Romelu Lukaku before scoring a fantastic goal. Since he was heavily linked with a move to the champions-elect throughout summer and the recent January transfer window, it will be interesting to note how the Chilean performs.

Those critics have pointed out his lack of ball retention. Like Hazard, perhaps one of Sanchez’s flaws is that you never quite know which side of him will show up.

United definitely have the capabilities to beat City, but with the quality of both sides we are going for a score prediction of 1-1.

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