Manchester City has the chance to secure the English Premier League title on Saturday by beating its fierce rival, Manchester United, at Etihad Stadium. It’s an eerie prospect that Jose Mourinho and Alexis Sanchez, in particular, would have hoped to avoid. For Jose, the United manager, there is the awful scenario of having to applaud bitter foe Pep Guardiola on beating him to the biggest prize in English soccer. For Sanchez, United’s high-profile forward, the shame of watching a team he could have joined in January winning the league in front of his own eyes.
The league leaders are 16 points clear of Jose Mourinhos second-placed team so it is a matter of when rather than if they wrap up the Premier League title, the first of Guardiola’s reign in England. City will be desperate to reassert themselves after their 0-3 defeat in the first leg of their Champions league quarterfinal at Anfield. But the derby comes just three days before the return leg of their European tie and Guardiola faces a difficult balancing act, still believing they can overturn the Champions League deficit at the Etihad.
Man City’s back four of Kyle Walker, Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte was ripped apart by the Reds and that resulted in uncharacteristically flustered performances from Leroy Sane and David Silva. Liverpool showed the ultimate way how to tame the league leaders. United have the ability to press City the way Liverpool did. The Anfield side is the only team to have beaten Pep’s side in the league, and their victories have come in the same fashion, playing with blinding pace and pin-point precision.
United knocked Arsenal off-balance at the Emirates in similar style in December, scoring twice in the first 11 minutes to a 3-1 win, and they’ll need another high-tempo start to exploit the doubts that will be hidden in their neighbours mind.
Despite the 16-point gap between the leaders and United, Jose Mourinho’s men are on course for their best league finish since Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge five years ago. They won’t win the title, of course, but they’ll want to kick City when they’re down and send them into next week’s second leg against Liverpool feeling even more fearful than they are right now.
Aside from the doubts over Aguero, City's only other absentee is Benjamin Mendy. Aguero may not start with the Liverpool game in mind next week, and John Stones, Fabian Delph and Bernardo Silva could all feature since none of them played any part in midweek.
Jose Mourinho has confirmed Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera have all regained fitness and will be available for Saturday's game. Daley Blind has also recovered, but Sergio Romero is a few weeks away.
Man City (4-3-3): Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling
Man United (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Young, Pogba, Matic, Alexis, Lingard, Rashford; Lukaku
Man City – 11/13
Man U – 15/4
Draw – 3/1
About the Author
Jeet Ghosh is a Football Journalist, living and working in Kolkata with 7 years of experience. He has also worked with Sportzwiki and India.com. Jeet is a sports lover but has special liking for football. He follows the football league’s around the world and is somewhat partial towards Real Madrid.