Gary Neville Explains How United Can Beat City Without Pogba

Gary Neville before the match.

REUTERS/David Klein

Manchester City have taken the Premier League by storm with their exhilarating and fearless display on the pitch.

The Cityzens sit at the top of the table with a massive 8-point lead, and they could possibly extend it to 11 points if they take down their arch-rivals Manchester United in Sunday’s Manchester Derby.

A fixture, which has the potential to decide the title winners even before the end of this year, is the one to watch out for this weekend.

After the Red Devils’ stunning away win at the Emirates against Arsenal, Jose Mourinho’s men would be in high spirits to take on a ruthless City side at Old Trafford in a bid to close down the gap at the top, and more importantly, paint Manchester red.

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But United might find the task to be an uphill battle considering the fact that their star player, Paul Pogba, won’t be a part of the derby. The Frenchman received a straight red in the game against the Gunners, and as a result, has been slapped with a three match ban.

However, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, while admitting that Pogba’s absence could definitely come into play, feels that Mourinho still has a couple of top quality replacements raring to go that could fill in the void left by the France international.

Neville said: “I was excited by what I was watching in the first 20 minutes against Arsenal, the counter-attacking was fantastic. Lingard, Martial and Lukaku were brilliant, and you could see a little bit how Otamendi or Kompany could get caught. You could see how that tactic could work in the Manchester derby.

“Pogba makes a big, big difference. So when they went to Anfield, they couldn’t connect the deep defence to the midfield and into attack. He connects that, he links it, with those runs forward and his composure on the ball.

“It was a cloud over a very good day for United because he is such an important player in the connection between the front and the back. The composure he shows travelling with the ball, you see West Ham when they were deep with 20 minutes to go, they didn’t have anybody that could travel with the ball, past De Bruyne and Silva.

“You think about Pogba, he would beat De Bruyne and Silva with the ball at his feet and break that line. Once you break that line you’re onto the weakness, you’re onto those two centre-backs with Lukaku and Martial.

“City is a big game to not have Pogba. The person who can break the line is gone, but Jose Mourinho will be looking at how he can do it differently. I was trying to think myself what Jose will be thinking.

“Do you play split strikers with Martial and Lukaku? City bring their full-backs in narrow while two centre-backs push up the pitch, [so United could] just leave two strikers stretched wide and you play three central midfielders and five at the back, and say to City that’s what we’ll do, trust that the front two will get into those areas.”


Written by Sidharth Jindal  

Sports fanatic with a passion for writing (predominantly football) and “Wants to live life to its fullest.” Writes about the Premier League on his personal blog.


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