Manchester United gear up for the biggest test of the season until now as they host Manchester City on Saturday.
The Manchester Derby is going to scale another level in world football as it reignites the rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. The home side have won all the three Premier League games including an enthralling win over Hull City inn the last minute of the game.
On the other hand City have also enjoyed a best possible start to the season. They have maintained a 100 per cent record under Guardiola and would be looking to put down the marker with a win in this derby. The talk of the derby is all about the two managers and their tactics, but following key battles on the pitch can affect the outcome of the game.
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Raheem Sterling vs Luke Shaw
The Manchester clubs have enjoyed decent output in terms of goals scored in their first three matches. Manchester City have scored nine goals and Raheem Sterling has been the key man for Guardiola.
The young winger has reinvented himself after a poor first season at the club and a terrible Euros in summer. The new manager has deployed Sterling on the right and he has used the freedom given in the final third effectively. He has scored two goals and grabbed two assists in Premier League this year.
HULL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 27: Ahmed Elmohamady of Hull City (L) and Luke Shaw of Manchester United (R) battle for possession during the Premier League match between Hull City and Manchester United at KCOM Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Hull, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
On the other hand United have scored six goals but conceded only one goal. The defensive four have been solid for United and have hardly given the opponents a sniff in their box. Luke Shaw have continued from where he left last season before suffering a legbreak.
The 21 year old has made a strong start this season under Mourinho.Shaw has been very expressive while going forward in the first three matches. He will have to be on his toes while defending against Sterling.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs John Stones
Ibrahimovic has been the most effective of all the blockbuster signings which Manchester United have made this summer. The Swedish striker has hit the ground running straightaway for the Old Trafford side. He has scored three Premier League goals till now.
It was thought that Ibrahimovic would struggle in Premier League but he has outmuscled the defenders and stamped his authority straightaway. United have a focal point of their attack in Ibrahimovic and a great asset on setpieces.
HULL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 27: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United in action with Sam Clucas of Hull City during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Hull City at KC Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Hull, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)
Guardiola has started his revolution at City by signing a player in each position which forms the spine of the team. John Stones was signed to bolster the defence , hence making him the second most expensive centreback in the world.
Stones has started strongly as a City player. He is going to face his first major test in dealing with Ibrahimovic. The former Everton defender who has been criticised for have better ball playing abilities than defending abilities will have to de at his best to stop Ibrahimovic.
David Silva vs Maraoune Fellaini
Guardialo has made changes in the organisation of City’s lineup. They now lineup in a 4-3-3 formation which involves David Silva as a number eight. The Spaniard is crucial for City as he operates further high on the pitch and creates chances for his team.
He has created seven chances and grabbed an assist till now in Premier League. With Sergio Aguero suspended for the game huge onus will lie on Silva to create more chances for the forward players against Manchester United.
Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba operated well together in midfield (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
On the other hand, Mourinho has stuck with his trademark 4-2-3-1 formation at Old Trafford. The Portuguese has partnered Maraoune Fellaini with Paul Pogba to form the midfield pivot. Fellaini is the defensive midfielder and to everyone’s surprise he has been excellent in this role.
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The Belgian has been tidy and mopped the things up in front of the four. He will have a key role in stiffling Silva which will not allow Spaniard to create chances. Fellaini has proven his critics wrong till now, but this is the perfect opportunity to cement his place in starting eleven for a longer time.