Both Manchester City and Manchester United have a 100% win record heading into their meeting at Old Trafford on Saturday and this derby fixture looks set to become as important as Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, in terms of deciding which team will be the title winners. Premier League chiefs will be yearning for the Manchester clubs to develop a rivalry akin to that of Spain’s El Clasico, with an intense battle between two of the richest and most successful clubs in world football attracting huge international attention.
In truth, the Premier League isn’t just about the two Manchester teams and Leicester’s unexpected win last season, goes to show that the favourites don’t always get things their own way. This season a number of other clubs have strengthened using the lucrative television deal of £10.4 billion to buy talent from around the world and Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, will all hope to challenge in 2016/17. Yet, at the time of writing, it is Manchester City at 11/8 and Manchester United at 11/4 with Betway, who are joint favourites to lift the crown in August next year. One game doesn’t decide the season, but managers Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will be looking to inflict an early psychological blow in the race for the Premier League title. These highly successful managers have a fierce rivalry and all eyes will be on them in the expectation of further controversy, as they have clashed many times before.
Manchester on top
The top spender in this years’ transfer window, City manager, Pep Guardiola, has addressed the issue of Vincent Kompany’s constant injury woes through the signing of England international defender, John Stones. He has also added a blend of experience, speed, potential and goals with the signings of Nolito, Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Claudio Bravo.
Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have all arrived for The Red Devils and they look as formidable as they did under legendary manager Alex Ferguson once more. Mourinho also has rising stars such as Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to call on if goals are required, while Guardiola has the young aces Raheem Sterling and Kelechi Iheanacho. Indeed Iheanacho may be given a rare starting place as City’s most dangerous player, Sergio Aguero, will miss the Premier League derby after being banned for three games. Aguero will be a huge loss for City and he should be disappointed in himself, after being found guilty of violent conduct for the unnecessary elbow to the neck of Winston Reid during their defeat of West Ham.
This season's derby game should be more competitive than previous years, as both teams will be eager to maintain their 100% win record and remain around the top of the table. Both teams appear to be well-matched and the form of each side suggests that fans might be treated to a season similar to the 2011-12 campaign, that ended in such drama for the Manchester clubs. Going into the final games of the season that time, City were top of the league, ahead of United on goal difference alone. A Wayne Rooney goal, away to Sunderland, meant United had done all they could to put the pressure on City and it appeared to be enough, as City struggled against 10 man QPR. United waited on the pitch after the final whistle, hoping to be awarded the Premier League trophy. Yet, City showed great resilience in the final moments with an equalising goal by Edin Dzeko and then the earth-shattering winner from Aguero, which you can relive below.
That season the Manchester derby produced a shocking 6-1 win for City, a result that seemed significant at the time and proved to be pivotal in the end, as they won the league on goal difference. The Theatre of Dreams could hardly be better set or the game more delicately poised for further drama this time around.
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