Manchester United welcome Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to Old Trafford on Saturday for a derby with unprecedented levels of importance.
Never before, it seems, has there ever been so much at stake: the rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Guardiola, conceived in Spain, will be renewed after almost four years; the opportunity to make the first big statement in this year’s title race; and, as always, the opportunity to assume top dog status in the city.
Such a momentous occasions requires the presence of cool, calm, confident heads. And after impressing for France during the international break, Man United’s attack would benefit from incorporating Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba, complimented by the steely presence of fellow countryman Morgan Schneiderlin.
Martial has made a muted start to life under Mourinho; his goal – a first for his country – against Italy, however, could be exactly what he need to kickstart his season. The man who provided the assist for Martial’s goal, alongside creating another for Layvin Kurwaza, was, of course, Paul Pogba.
He was a storming influence all evening, dictating the game from deep before springing forward to inflict maximal damage on the opposition. And while his influence from a deep lying position is clear, Pogba was at his irresistible best when charging forward, eating up ground with reckless abandon.
Coupling him with Schneiderlin would give the 23-year-old a license to rampage his way through Man City’s new-look, zonal defensive system, leading to devastating results.