Saturday 10th September. 12:30PM. Sky Sports 1
The Premier League is back from the international break, and it’s back with a bang. It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for: Jose Mourinho versus Pep Guardiola; top versus third; Manchester United versus Manchester City!
Old Trafford will be buzzing as two genuine heavyweights lock horns for bragging rights and the early advantage in what is already shaping up to be a fascinating race for the title. Quite frankly, it has all the makings of a classic and could be the perfect start to what is set to be an incredible week of sport.
Bring it on!
Can Mourinho Mastermind Crucial Victory?
Manchester United have finally rediscovered their swagger under new boss Jose Mourinho, and finally look like a team capable of genuinely fighting for the title. A victory in the derby would only further highlight their credentials.
The former Chelsea manager will be thrilled with the starts of new arrivals Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba. Meanwhile, the spirit and willingness to keep battling against Hull City is another quality that arguably wasn’t there throughout large periods of the David Moyes and Lous van Gaal eras.
Heading into the derby, it could be argued that the Red Devils look a little more settled, largely because David De Gea provides a formidable force in between the sticks. As experienced as Claudio Bravo is, a Manchester City debut at Old Trafford would be a baptism of fire. That’s something Mourinho’s men will surely try to punish.
This isn’t quite vintage Manchester United just yet, but they are definitely in their bests position since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Nevertheless, this will be their hardest test of the season by a mile. It should be explosive from the off.
Aguero Absence A Real Worry For City
If the goalkeeper issue is one to cause minor headaches for Guardiola, the absence of star striker Sergio Aguero has probably caused several sleepless nights. The Argentinian can have no complaints, however, following that elbow on Winston Reid and his club will just have to cope without.
The visitors are still blessed with bags of quality all over the park, though, and Kelechi Iheanacho will be eager to make the most of his opportunity following impressive breakthrough season last term. Like United’s young star Marcus Rashford, the teenager will convert chances if they come his way, and the Citizens certainly have the creativity to provide the ammunition.
David Silva has looked particularly impressive in the early weeks while Raheem Sterling has enjoyed a new lease of life under Guardiola’s guidance. If summer signings Nolito and John Stones continue their fine starts too, the Citizens will have a fantastic chance – regardless of their key absence.
In many ways, it’s the most exciting Manchester derby of the modern rivalry. With the managerial rivalry thrown into the mix too, we’d expect nothing less than 90 minutes of pure entertainment.
Manchester United v Manchester City Betting
With home advantage on their side, it’s Manchester Untied who enter this clash as the 13/10 favourites at Bet365. Manchester City, meanwhile, are priced 23/10 and the draw can be backed at 9/4.
You could make arguments for either team in this one and, while we would edge towards a home win, we couldn’t back an outcome with conviction. What we do know, however, is that this will be a fascinating battle from start to finish.
At least one team will lose their 100% record, but we think both will keep their 100% records running strong. Back both teams to score.
Everyone wants to see the best players on the pitch, but Aguero’s absence could Ibrahimovic the initiative to make himself the derby day hero. After scoring 38 goals in the calendar year, he certainly won’t be short of confidence.
The retired former Sweden international has had time to recharge and prepare for this one, and will be in bullish mood. It hasn’t taken the No.9 to become a firm favourite with the Red Devils fans. We’re predicting that he’ll further endear himself to the Old Trafford with the opener here.