- Published: Friday, 09 September 2016 22:19
PREVIEW: UNITED V MANCHESTER CITY
How can I follow the game? The match at Old Trafford kicks off at 13:30 on Saturday and will be broadcast live at The Keg and Beagle in Linksfield. Match build up hosted by MUSCSA begins at 12:30
Set the scene for me... Returning from the international break, the Premier League gets back under way with a bang with a fixture that needs no introduction, the Manchester derby. It’s been the ideal start to the season for Jose Mourinho and the squad, having won all three league outings thus far, but Pep Guardiola's City side head to Old Trafford having also put together a perfect league record to this point - beating Sunderland, Stoke City and West Ham. Something has to give, however, and a win for United would see the Reds move three points clear of our neighbours.
Who'll play on Saturday? As is often the case with players returning from international duty, there were various question marks about a number of stars for this weekend’s game. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was a doubt after coming off in the first half of Armenia's defeat in the Czech Republic on 31 August, and he has since tweeted, "Not sure yet if I'll be fit for the derby, but I'm motivated as ever to put all energy to be in great shape asap!" Marouane Fellaini missed the first of Belgium's two matches after hurting his back in the Hull game but he played 84 minutes of their second fixture, in Cyprus on Tuesday night. Luke Shaw, meanwhile, withdrew from the England squad in Slovakia due to an ache in his calf but boss Sam Allardyce said the left-back's return to Manchester was just a precautionary measure. Jose Mourinho declared on Friday all of his players are available but Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo were the latest to return. One player who is certainly ruled out is City striker Sergio Aguero - he will serve the first of a three-match ban on Saturday, having been retrospectively charged with violent conduct following the win against West Ham. Claudio Bravo definitely makes his debut in goal and Leroy Sane is fit to feature for the Blues.
What happened in the last derby? The most recent duel with City was back in March at the Etihad Stadium. A solo Marcus Rashford goal was enough to earn a win for the Reds and, in netting the winner, the teenager became the youngest player to score in the derby in the Premier League era. Last time the derby was at Old Trafford, the match finished in stalemate, with neither side finding a goal. City have not been victorious in the fixture since 2014 and, in the Premier League era, United have won 20 of the 38 league meetings between the two sides (20 wins, 7 draws, 11 losses).
Who are their key men? City’s squad is full of quality and, so far this season, it’s been their attacking threat which has taken the headlines as they are currently the Premier League’s top-scoring team. Joining this summer from Celta Vigo, Nolito has hit the ground running at City, with the Spanish left-winger having already scored three goals and provided two assists in all competitions. On the opposite wing, Raheem Sterling has also made a strong start to the season, scoring twice and setting up four. You would think City’s productivity from wide positions may be wasted with Aguero missing, but the club’s only other recognised striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, is definitely not to be underestimated. The 19-year-old from Nigeria broke into the squad last season and went on net 14 times in total.
Anything else I should know? Saturday is going to see two of the most revered managers in the current game reignite a rivalry that originates from when they were both working in La Liga. United manager Mourinho, formerly of Real Madrid, and City manager Pep Guardiola, the ex-Barcelona coach, used to lock horns in the infamous El Classico. Now both in England, they will again face one another in fierce derby fixture, this time playing for the accolade of the best team in Manchester.