Following a dull and draining International break, the Premier League is back, and what better way to return than with a good, old-fashioned, Manchester derby. Although City are without star man Sergio Aguero, it will certainly be a match to remember – we finally get our first installment of Guardiola vs. Mourinho in the Premier League, to go along with an endless stream of narratives to take into the game.
City and United both come into the match boasting 100% win records to begin the season, with both sides impressing slowly in their first three Premier League games.
Most recently, the Blues defeated Stoke City 4-1 away from home, thanks to two goals from Sergio Aguero. As for United’s last game, they beat newly promoted side Hull City, following a 90th-minute winner from Marcus Rashford.
Guardiola vs. Mourinho
Away from what’s happening on the pitch, there is enormous story making headlines off it. The 11th career matchup of Guardiola and Mourinho is stealing all headlines. At the moment, Pep has the advantage over Mourinho in their head-to-head record. It currently stands with Pep at seven wins and Jose with just three wins over his opposite number.
The history between the two managers adds to the occasion, even more, adding more and more tension for fans to endure on match-day. It’s safe to say neither manager will want to lose their first derby, and maybe more importantly, one won’t want to lose to the other.
The one main exclusion from the game is Sergio Aguero, who has received a three-match ban, for elbowing West Ham’s Winston Reid. There’s certainly no doubting the effect Aguero could have had on the game – just one look at his performances in past derbies will tell you that. However, City and Pep will have to do without, with Kelechi Iheanacho looking the favorite to take his spot. Nicolas Otamendi is doubt to make it in time for the derby; the Argentinian will be in training just 48 hours before the derby.
City will have the luxury to pick Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane for the first time, since their Summer transfer. Though both are doubt to start, they will more than likely be on the bench. Bacary Sagna is also fit to play, having missed the past three City games.
Moving over to the red side of Manchester, Antonio Valencia is doubt to be ready in time for the derby, with the Ecuadorian scheduled to land in Manchester on Friday, just 24 hours before the game. Mourinho could also be without first choice left-back Luke Shaw, as the 21-year-old pulled out of England’s World Cup qualifying international squad, after suffering a knock in training.
Marouane Fellaini also looks set to miss the match, after recent comments from Mourinho, stating he could be out for a “while” with a back injury. Finally, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also a doubt to play. However, the Armenian has been under constant fitness tests ahead of the game.
Manchester City’s line-up: Bravo; Zabaleta, Stones, Kolarov, Clichy; Fernandinho; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva, Nolito; Iheanacho (4-1-4-1). With doubts surrounding Otamendi’s readiness, Kolarov will more than likely play in the centre of defence, alongside Stones.
Manchester United’s line-up: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Pogba, Schneiderlin; Martial, Rooney, Mata; Ibrahimovic (4-2-3-1). Youngster Fosu-Mensah looks like he could be thrown in the deep end with doubts surrounding Valencia, and Darmian looking very much out of favour. Schneiderlin could be brought into the line-up with Fellaini reportedly injured.