Crucial Manchester Derby Looms For Man City
Pep Guardiola's side are coming off of an impressive 4-1 victory over Club Brugge on Wednesday. It was a desperately needed positive result for the club, after suffering back to back defeats against West Ham in the Carabao Cup and Crystal Palace in the League.
Manchester United's form is equally questionable coming into the match. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was under immense pressure following his side's 5-0 embarrassment at home against Liverpool.
To his credit, Solskjaer has been able to steady the ship since. United defeated Spurs 3-0 in their last Premier League match, and played an entertaining 2-2 draw against a high scoring Atalanta team in the Champions League mid week.
Only three points separate the two sides in the table heading into the match. It's hard to imagin that either side will be satisfied with a draw. Guardiola will want all three points to keep pace with Chelsea and Liverpool. While Solskjaer will want to close the gap between his side and City, and pull United back into contention for the League.
It will be interesting to see how United approach this match against Manchester City. Their open, attacking approach against Liverpool failed spectacularly.
The pragmatic approach for Solskjaer's side would be to sit deep, stay organized defensively, and spring forward on the counter with their quick forwards when City overextend themselves. Yet with that being said, will Solskjaer feel pressure to try and bring the match to City?
For City, Ederson will start in goal while John Stones will likely partner Ruben Dias in Central Defense. Aymeric Laporte is unavailable for this match following his red card against Crystal Palace last week.
Stones and Dias' partnership last season was crucial to City's Premier League Title. Stones has found himself out of the team once again in favor of Laporte. A solid performance this weekend from Stones could help him regain his place in City's first choice 11.
Who Guardiola deploys at Fullback will be something to keep an eye on. Kyle Walker feels like an obvious choice on the right. The Englishman's pace and physicality will be crucial in dealing with United's threat on the counter.
Joao Cancelo should retain his place at Left Back after his marvelous, three assist performance against Club Brugge last Wednesday. Yet, Cancelo hasn't always proven to be the most reliable in defense. Perhaps Guardiola will decide to go for a safer, more defensively reliable option, such as Oleksandr Zinchenko, due to the offensive threat that United pose.
Kevin De Bruyne will most likely feature in City's starting 11. The Belgian hasn't been in his best form so far this season, yet he remains so integral to the identity of City's team that it's difficult to imagine Guardiola dropping him to the bench.
Phil Foden should also retain his place. The Academy product has been in great form in recent weeks. What's unknown is whether Foden will be asked to play more centrally as a false nine, or if he will play out on the wing.
Trying to predict the rest of City's midfield and attack is pure guesswork. Guardiola is never afraid to rotate his team based upon the opponent.
Whatever team Guardiola decides to go with on Saturday will tell us a lot about his approach for the match.