Manchester Derby: Conservative V Revolutionary
Tactical battle between Mourinho and Guardiola is an intriguing one
MAN UNITED v MAN CITY
(Tonight, 7.25pm, Singtel TV Ch 103 & StarHub TV Ch 228 - Eleven Plus)
The Spanish rebel with a football cause is intent on anarchy in the UK.
And the Portuguese perfectionist treats a solid back four like a warm security blanket.
The first meeting of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho in the English Premier League is tactically intriguing.
In La Liga, Guardiola held an advantage. In the EPL, Mourinho has signed bigger names in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba.
How the two halves of Manchester line up should be fascinating.
Here's a look at what the City and United teams might look like.
MAN UNITED — 4-2-3-1
DAVID DE GEA
In EPL terms, he's the best in the business and loving the new regime. He won't face much of an aerial challenge against City either.
Shaw's return feels like a new signing and his eagerness to make up for lost time suddenly gives United a formidable left flank.
City picked up Stones from Everton. United acquired a rock from Villarreal. Bailly may be permitted a licence to edge forward if City opt for a false No. 9. But a match-up with Iheanacho will be a clash of the speedsters.
As Bailly steals the show, Blind makes up the numbers in an unnatural position. Chris Smalling offers a reliable alternative, but still lacks match fitness. And Mourinho will be reluctant to change a settled defence.
Valencia needs a rest after international duties. But Mourinho is unlikely to relent as his options are the inexperienced Tim Fosu-Mensah or erratic Phil Jones.
Pogba is back for English football's Clasico. He'll roam in the pockets of space around Fernandinho, de Bruyne and Sterling, denying them thinking time. If a laboratory designed and programmed a footballer for the biggest stage, he'd look like Pogba.
Mourinho likes loyal foot soldiers, preferring inventive, enterprising, belligerent bruisers. But he'll settle for belligerent bruisers like Fellaini. Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin may be considered too lightweight and Michael Carrick too old. United can't really come close to City's cerebral, counter-pressing speed, but Fellaini can match their physicality.
The Frenchman is yet to replicate his scintillating form of the previous campaign, but City's game may suit his strengths. With Guardiola's galloping fullbacks vacating too much space, faster players like Martial could exploit City's tactical flaw.
The Rooney debate underlines the concerns with Mourinho's safety-first approach. Faster and fearless, Marcus Rashford against Nicolas Otamendi has the makings of a walkover. But Mourinho has granted him just 19 minutes of play. The manager should ensure that the Rooney obsession continues.
has picked Mata, who moved on from Chelsea, over new man Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Mata's antenna will be tuned to Clichy's scampering, ready to slide a pass behind the fullback.
At the apex of United's almost untouchable spine stands the Swedish superhero, made in Malmo and born for games like this one. Ibrahimovic intends to step all over Stones.
MAN CITY — 4-1-4-1
As baptisms of fire go, they do not come any hotter than a Manchester Derby. Bravo's lack of English experience makes Guardiola's No. 1 his No. 1 headache. The experienced Willy Caballero offers a safer option, but Bravo is obviously a better player. Still, Guardiola spent £17 million for a reason and the coach revels in risk-taking.
At 31, he's still defensively vulnerable at times, but his eagerness to dash forward and serve David Silva fits Guardiola's swashbuckling template.
Otamendi has worked well alongside Stones, but he has just returned from international duty. And Vincent Kompany isn't fully fit. Aleksandar Kolarov remains an option but, if Otamendi is fit enough, he's good enough.
A sweeper, a lover of a pass and a fighter, Stones epitomises the classic Guardiola centre back. The young Englishman boasts the raw talent to provide a platform for Guardiola's intense, possession game.
Always happier advancing than retreating, Zabaleta spent most of City's opening fixtures in the opponents' half. That's less likely against United and there's a temptation to play the more defensive Bacary Sagna.
The Brazilian is arguably a more pivotal midfielder now. Guardiola's risky business doesn't really profit without him. He has the most fixed position in front of the defence. He also has a fixed target: Paul Pogba.
The Spaniard is the life of the team. Pellegrini's regimented formations often shackled City's pocket dynamo, but Guardiola snipped the strings and Silva is dancing across the turf once more.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE
City's rampant attacking certainly favours the Belgian. His partnership with Raheem Sterling should catch the eye, but he must be equally aware of catching Luke Shaw.
The unassuming Spaniard's contributions haven't gone unnoticed. Two goals and an assist in three games are a decent return. And his willingness to track back impresses his demanding manager even more.
The artist formerly known as a petulant brat irritates no more. A defining image of Sterling isn't the dazzling dribbles, but the sight of him hoofing the ball clear in defence. His workrate represents an entirely different player.
The loss of Sergio Aguero cannot be overstated. But Iheanacho represents a real Guardiola choice. He's 19, raw, fast and unpredictable. Most managers wouldn't risk using a kid into a derby. Most managers aren't Guardiola.
By the numbers
Manchester City could secure their 50th Manchester Derby win in all competitions with victory. Manchester United have recorded 70 wins (51 draws).
Man United have lost three of their last five home league meetings with Man City (W1, D1), more than they'd lost in the previous 29 (W15, D12, L2).