One of the bitterest rivalries in European football-Manchester United and Manchester City will today go head-to-head in the Premier League at Old Trafford. The Citizens have emerged a very strong force in English football since it was bought by Sheikh Mansour, and have transformed from being ‘noisy neighbours’ to true champions. The Citizens had actually won the Premiership twice and runners-up on two occasions in the last five seasons, beating the Red Devils to the title in 2012/13 season. An interesting twist to this encounter is the Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola factor, both having been ‘sworn enemies’ during their time in the Spanish La liga. After both went their separate ways (Mourinho back to Chelsea and Guardiola to Bayern) they’ve both only met once—in the European Super Cup. But as fate would have it the two gladiators have now pitched their tents at Manchester to continue their rivalry. It is however a game for the neutrals to enjoy
Manchester United welcome Manchester City to Old Trafford today in a derby match that sees opposing managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola renew their rivalry in the 135-year-old challenge between the cross-town rivals.
United have made a fantastic start to the season, winning all three of their matches so far and Mourinho has not only galvanised the mood around the club, he has also transformed United on the pitch.
The Red Devils are much more proactive now and are playing with a lot more urgency and will cause a lot of problems for City’s unsettled back four if they can continue their impressive attacking form.
Moreover, Mourinho will have most of his first team players fit for the encounter; the only worry for the Red Devils is their Armenian midfielder, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is a major doubt for this game.
Meanwhile, Manchester City have been unstoppable this season, but this is their first real test. Guardiola has managed to outsmart Mourinho more often than not in the past and will look to do the same this weekend.
However, Aguero’s suspension is a major blow for the away side and would be forced to start the inexperienced Kelechi Iheancho against the impressive duo of Bailly and Blind.
Furthermore, Otamendi and Stones have shown that they are prone to a moment of madness and coming up against Zlatan, it could be a defining factor.
Star midfielder De Bruyne is still adapting to Pep’s methods and has not performed too well so far, but Raheem Sterling seems to have rediscovered his form and could be a key man for the away side.
The second match of the day will see Arsenal host Southampton in a crucial game Week 4 encounter at the Emirates Stadium. After a tough start to the season, the Gunners gained momentum in the last game week as they defeated Watford 3-1 to register their first win in the season.
Southampton on the other hand are yet to secure a win as they drew two matches and lost one against Manchester United.
Arsenal are all set to welcome two of their newest members Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez into their starting XI. Both the players were bought on the transfer deadline day to bolster their squad.
Mustafi’s arrival will strengthen their backline which was looking extremely weak until last weekend and Arsenal fans will be eager to watch Mustafi-Koscielny combination at the heart of defense.
Arsene Wenger may also hand Lucas Perez his debut against Southampton. Alexis Sanchez was the stop-gap striker for Arsenal in the last match against Watford, which clearly indicates that the manager has lost faith in French international Olivier Giroud.
Southampton custodian Fraser Forster is currently suffering from a minor hand injury but he is expected come back before the match. Other than that Claude Puel does not have any injury worries and is expected to field his best possible side.
Meanwhile, Liverpool will play their first home game of the season this weekend and will look to start off with a victory. The Reds have had a mixed start to the campaign so far. An outstanding win over Arsenal was followed up by a shock 2-0 defeat against Burnley, but Jurgen Klopp’s men did well to get a point in their last game against Tottenham.
The German will be hoping his side can improve at the back when Leicester come to town. Despite their poor start to the season, the Premier League Champions have a solid attacking unit and will exploit Liverpool’s defensive frailties.
Apart from Sheyi Ojo, Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan, Liverpool will have a fully fit squad to choose from. Loris Karius is back in training and could make his Liverpool debut against the Champions at Anfield.
Mamadou Sakho is expected to be on the bench as well. Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho might struggle for match fitness and Milner should keep his place at left-back.
However, Leicester City have had a poor start to the season so far and will be hoping for a positive result at Anfield this weekend.Claudio Ranieri’s side lost their opening game against Hull City and then drew against Arsenal in their first home game of the season.
The champions impressed during their 2-1 win over Swansea in the last game and will look to carry that momentum into the Liverpool game.
Leicester’s club record signing Islam Slimani is in line to make his debut today. Kasper Schmeichel had a hernia operation during the international break and new signing Ron-Robert Zieler is expected to replace him in the starting lineup.
United Team News
Marouane Fellaini picked up a back injury during United’s dramatic 1-0 victory over Hull before the international break.
Mourinho seemed pessimistic about his prognosis but he has reportedly recovered and is expected to be in contention for a place today.
Luke Shaw is less likely to take part having been withdrawn from the England squad last week as a precautionary measure.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan also picked up a knock on international duty with Armenia and the player himself admitted on Twitter that he was not sure whether he would be fit in time for the derby.
City Team News
Sergio Aguero will begin serving his three-match ban after the FA upheld his conviction for violent conduct. The Argentinian striker caught Winston Reid in the throat with his elbow during City’s 3-1 win over West Ham. Referee Andre Marriner did not see the incident and the FA handed Aguero the ban as a retrospective punishment – City appealed but it was unsuccessful.
Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan both made it through a 50-minute practice match at the City Football Academy during the international break and are pushing for debuts.
Vincent Kompany also played that game but having been out since May, he is unlikely to be thrown into the pressure cooker of derby day.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Assistants: Jake Collin, Steve Bennett
Fourth official: Mike Dean
Mourinho Vs Guardiola
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will face off once again today but for the first time in a Manchester derby
Mourinho and Guardiola have a much-storied rivalry that dates back to when they first met in 1997.
However, they did not clash as managers until 2009 when Mourinho’s Inter Milan drew 0-0 with Guardiola’s Barcelona.
They have in total faced each other 16 times, with Pep triumphing seven times and Jose just three.
They contested one of the biggest derbies in the world – El Clasico – and in those the Barca boss was generally victorious too, winning five of the 11 and losing just two.
Both sides come into the game in the very best of form with 100 per cent records in the Premier League so far this season, but in truth neither has been properly tested.
United have not lost at home since a 1-0 defeat to Southampton on January 23 and were unbeaten at Old Trafford in all but two matches.
What the Managers Say
“I was in Spain for two years, in a league with Pep where the champion would be me or him. There, the individual fights made more sense because they can affect the outcome of the title race. In England, if we were to only focus on Guardiola and Manchester City and he were to focus on me and Manchester United, there would be another team to become champions. My experience does not allow me to be naive.”
“I still haven’t seen Manchester United play, so now I have 10 days to see United, Borussia Monchengladbach and other teams.We have to make an amazing performance to win at Old Trafford. I can imagine the atmosphere. I am looking forward to living that experience. Hopefully, they (City’s players) come back with no injuries and in a good mood and we can do it.