Manchester United are expected to try and expose City at Old Trafford on Saturday by inviting balls into the box aerially.
As discussed by James Ducker in The Telegraph, Jose Mourinho is likely to encourage Man United’s players to challenge City in the air in and around their 18-yard box in an attempt to outmuscle and bully them.
Is it going to be a long ball style of football Sam Allardyce would be proud of? Absolutely not. It’s about using your assets to your advantage and United’s strength is certainly one of those now.
With Ibrahimovic, Pogba, Fellaini and Bailly, we’ve got four powerful and burly players who can mix it up in the air but bar Fellaini all of them are technically sound as well and more than comfortable playing it on the ground as well. Having the ability to flick between the two gives United a versatility in tactics which Guardiola’s City don’t; it’s plan A for City and if that doesn’t work try plan A again.
For years in the derby we had Yaya Toure in City’s midfield making us look like mincemeat. Nobody could push him off the ball and that brute strength made it impossible for us to ever win the midfield battle.
Now the shoe can be on the other foot. Guardiola’s delicate tiki-taka style of play is delightful to watch but in Paul Pogba we’ve got a midfielder who is strong enough to win the ball back and has enough both guile and quality to bring it through midfield into our attack; a lot of our derby rests on him controlling the midfield which is likely to be packed like sardines.
There’s so many interesting dynamics to this derby on Saturday that it makes it impossible to predict but one thing is for absolute certain – Guardiola will play his style of football and Mourinho needs to find the best tactics to come up against it.
With only three wins in 16 against the Spaniard, history is against Jose but this is the Manchester derby and this is United and we’re all hoping things will be a bit different on Saturday.