Explosive Manchester derby predicted as Mourinho and Guardiola renew bitter rivalry
José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will lock horns again on Saturday, when Manchester United take on neighbours City at Old Trafford. Both sides have started the season in impressive fashion, winning all of their games but something will have to give in this one.
Mark Clattenburg, who is never far away from controversy, will referee the match and it’s worth noting that United have won 50 percent of the Premier League games he has officiated in. However, City fans will be encouraged by the fact that they have won two of the previous four Manchester derbies that Clattenburg has refereed, including that unforgettable 6-1 victory at Old Trafford.
The Durham born official has had a year to remember and has even gone as far as to have tattoos done, to remind himself of his achievements!
Goal projections – Man Utd 1.47 Man City 1.15
Team news & predicted starting line-ups for Man Utd v Man City
Sergio Agüero has dominated the headlines in the build up to the derby, with Manchester City’s Argentinian forward picking up a 3-match ban for violent conduct. Guardiola will have to decide how to replace him, having used a hybrid 4-1-4-1 formation for much of the season.
Mourinho has stuck with a 4-2-3-1 set-up, despite concerns that it might not get the best out of world record signing Paul Pogba.
Man Utd fantasy player to watch
Zlatan Ibrahimović has scored in an El Clásico and a Milan derby so the charismatic striker will surely be looking to add the Manchester derby to his impressive CV.
How Man City handle his aerial threat could prove to be the decisive factor for the outcome of the game and Mourinho is sure to focus on this potential weak-spot in the opposition’s rear-guard, in the build-up to the match.
Man Utd team news
José Mourinho is sweating on the fitness of Marouane Fellaini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, while Antonio Valencia is not expected back from international duty until Friday.
Eric Bailly could deputise at right-back, if Valencia is deemed too jaded to start, with Chris Smalling stepping in alongside Blind in the centre of defence.
Mkhitaryan picked up a knock, while away on international duty, so Juan Mata is likely to retain his starting spot, at the expense of Jesse Lingard.
Fellaini looks like a player re-energised under Mourinho but he remains a doubt for this one. Either Morgan Schneiderlin or Michael Carrick will fill in if the former Everton favourite fails in his bid to shake off a back injury, which he sustained in the last-gasp victory at Hull City. Luke Shaw has a minor foot complaint but is expected to be passed fit as well.
Marcus Rashford continues to knock on the door and is certainly putting pressure on an under-performing Anthony Martial for the wide forward role.
Predicted starting line-up for Man Utd
Man City fantasy player to watch
Claudio Bravo is expected to make his Man City debut between the sticks, with Wily Caballero making way. United are not expected to press too much in attack, so Bravo should have ample time to showcase his ball-playing ability.
However, it is how he copes with a likely aerial bombardment that could make all the difference on Saturday. Questions are almost certain to be asked throughout the contest but if his handling is assured, City could well come away with a positive result.
Man City team news
With Agüero absent, Guardiola may opt for a like for like replacement in the shape of Kelechi Iheanacho. The Nigerian striker has a better goals per minute return than any other forward since 2015/16, as highlighted in this recent Ben McAleer article for WhoScored. However, using Raheem Sterling as a False 9 looks another viable option and the former Barcelona boss may be tempted by this, in an attempt to exploit Daley Blind’s renowned lack of pace.
If Guardiola opts for the latter, Leroy Sané could make his debut, although, Jesús Navas is perhaps the more likely starter.
This game is likely to come too soon for Vincent Kompany and İlkay Gündoğan but Bacary Sagna should have recovered from the hamstring problem that has troubled him, enabling him to take his place in the starting XI.
Predicted starting line-up for Man City
There’s a plethora of star names on show as the two Premier League heavyweights go head to head but it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world to see Mark Clattenburg stealing all the headlines….again!
Something suggests that the gloves will come off on Saturday – can Mourinho’s men get the better of Guardiola’s new-look City side in the Manchester derby?