EPL: Manchester Utd v Manchester City Preview

EPL-Man-United-Man-City-Preview

Our football writer takes an in-depth look at the eagerly-awaited Manchester derby. 

The Premier League returns with a mouth-watering clash between local rivals Manchester United and City in Saturday’s early kick-off. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will renew their rivalry at Old Trafford for the first time in the Premier League.

Both the Special One and Guardiola have made flawless starts to their respective tenures. These sides were supposed to play each other in a pre-season friendly in China, but the game was cancelled due to torrential rain.

Manchester Utd v Manchester City | Saturday 10 September | Old Trafford | 13:30

To Win (90 Mins) 
Manchester United 5/4 | Draw 9/4 | Manchester City 22/10

Manchester United
Manchester United are off to a perfect start under Mourinho this season. After beating Premier League champions Leicester City 2-1 in the Community Shield, the Red Devils have picked up maximum points from their first three league games. An easy 3-1 victory over Bournemouth on the opening day followed with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Southampton, before a hard-fought 1-0 win over newly-promoted Hull City.

Mourinho has benefited from a fully fit squad during his first four competitive matches in charge but the rigours of the international schedule are set to bite. United’s South American players Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero arrive back just a day before the clash against their title rivals. Valencia has played every minute of United's season under Mourinho at right-back, while goalkeeper Romero has been an unused substitute and Rojo hasn’t been involved in a matchday squad since the opening day win over Bournemouth. 

Meanwhile, Mourinho could be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan after he went off injured during Armenia's 3-0 friendly loss to the Czech Republic. The 27-year-old was withdrawn with a knee problem in the 38th minute following a collision with opposition defender Marek Suchy.

United’s world-record buy Paul Pogba has added a much-needed creative jolt in midfield. He's fast, seemingly never gets tired and, most importantly, is extremely smart about where he goes. He can beat opponents with skill or beat them with passes, and the opposition goal is under threat whenever he is within 45 meters of it.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made a sensational start to his United career, scoring three goals in as many Premier League appearances and netting the decisive strike in the Community Shield win against Leicester City. The presence of the Swede alone is enough to terrify defenders, and John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi could struggle to deal with his power.


Manchester City
Like their opponents, Manchester City have made a superb start to the season, winning all three of their matches and scoring nine goals in the process. Guardiola’s side have five consecutive wins in all competitions, including their 6-0 aggregate victory over Steaua Bucharest in the UEFA Champions League play-off. Guardiola has added a swagger to City that has got the fans excited. It's been a long while since City felt like they had their opponents intimidated at kick-off. That seems to have returned, big-time.

With Joe Hart’s loan move to Torino now official, Claudio Bravo looks set to make his debut with Willy Caballero dropping to the bench as backup. Bravo brings with him a wealth of experience - including back-to-back La Liga titles with Barca and successive Copa America triumphs with Chile. Bravo played 75 games and was even named in the 2014-15 La Liga Team of the Season.

Raheem Sterling has been nominated for the Player of the Month award. The 21-year-old winger, who has suffered heavy criticism over the past 12 months, has made a sensational start to the new campaign. He already has two goals and an assist in the league – and has dazzled with his pace and ability to beat defenders.

With Yaya Toure out-of-favour, David Silva has been asked to play a deeper role alongside Fernandinho, allowing Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nolito to wreak havoc up front. De Bruyne is now their talisman, and he has the potential to unlock any defence with his vision, technique and passing skills.

Guardiola will be without star striker Sergio Aguero after he was caught on camera appearing to elbow Winston Reid during the 3-1 home win over West Ham before the international break. The Argentine is joint top scorer with Ibrahimovic and his loss will be a massive blow to City. With Wilfried Bony joining Stoke on deadline day, Kelechi Iheanacho is the only other option up front.


Verdict: HT/FT Double - Draw/Man United (17/4)
The Red Devils are unbeaten in their previous three meetings with City, winning twice. United’s backline have looked solid under Mourinho and City could struggle without their prolific striker.

Both teams will want to keep things tight in the first half, but United should win it in the second half. Take the Half-time/Full-time market with the Draw/Man United tipped at 17/4.

Written by Chadley Nagel @Hollywoodbets

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