Sunday night’s derby is one that is weighed down with expectations for both Mancunian clubs. City must put in all their efforts and secure this one win against United in order to breathe relatively easy with a daunting 11 point gap safely keeping them at the top.
United, on the other hand, must be able to pin down the elusive Premier League defeat for Pep Guardiola’s men, and by virtue, fuel their own campaign with a realistic effort to win the title they’ve mastered for decades, but been deprived of for far too long.
And according to Manchester Evening News’s Samuel Luckhurst, the Red Devils might know precisely what to do to gift Old Trafford three precious points on the weekend.
In order to win, Mourinho must simply employ the tactics that acquired victory for him last season against another relatively formidable opponents – Chelsea.
All the way back in April, a resurgent United were able to defeat the London Blues 2-0 in what has since been hailed as a fine masterclass by Jose Mourinho. If City as a danger must be belittled, then all signs indicate that Mourinho will go on to do the same.
First and foremost is the backline and deploying three defenders in order to utilize talented wing-backs. Resurrected last year by Antonio Conte to winning success, Mourinho has mastered it in the months since. Against big teams, the 3-5-2 formation is Mourinho’s go-to bet, and one that has paid a great dividend in recent weeks.
During their Champions League win against CSKA Moscow, the lineup was on display yet again, which was a practical throwaway on part of the Portuguese tactician as to how United will play on Sunday.
Next is the player selection: In that fateful match against Chelsea, Mourinho had taken some bold moves and deployed Lingard, a fledgling whose only claim for glory were opportune goals in domestic cup finals.
But the Englishman was in terrific form on that night, and if his goal-scoring antics over the last two weeks are any indication, a repeat of the same will be on display against the Sky Blues.
Lastly, the tragedy of having Paul Pogba suspended can be swiftly amended as well, albeit through a doubtful Ander Herrera. The Spaniard was in electric form last season, but the arrival of Matic has heavily dented his chances at proving his worth to the crowd again.
But on Sunday, by virtue of Fellaini’s doubtful injury as well, the Matt Busby Player Of The Year will have a chance to make a glorious impact against opponents who will settle for no less than a knockout.
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.