So with the weekend nearing, the excitement is rising high. The week number four in the Premier league will be kicking off with a bang as both the Manchester clubs will be colliding for the 172nd time in the competition. But what makes this clash more interesting is the rivalry of the managers, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.
Both the managers are considered as fierce enemies on the pitch and their touch-line antiques are something they are popularly known for. Manchester United, who had an average season last time out under Louis van Gaal, are now looking set to challenge for the top honours and have kicked their campaign in style as they have collected all the possible points from the opening fixtures of the League.
Well, their counterparts are no different; they have started their campaign on a high note as well and are the joint leaders alongside the Devils and the Stamford Bridge outfit, but what differentiates the two, is the number of goals they have conceded. The Citizens will be facing a major setback as they will be without their star man Sergio Aguero, who will be facing the first of a three-match ban on Saturday.
Unlike the past couple of years, this clash is going to be a tactical masterclass. So, here is the predicted lineup for Manchester United, that could face the rivals with full throttle.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea-
Absolutely no doubt about this one! The former Atletico Madrid man was a joy to watch last season, but under Mourinho, he hasn’t had much work to do. The Devils are having a great record defensively but this time around, he will have to be on his toes as the players like Sterling, Nolito and Silva are hitting the strides and could cause some serious problems.
Defence: Valencia; Bailly; Blind; Shaw-
The 31-year-old Ecuadorian international took the social media by storm by posting his muscle-building routine exercise and this has clearly indicated that he is now looking all set to cement his place in the team. The winger/full back, Valencia was heavily criticized for the lack of his delivery, but under Mourinho, the 31-year-old seems to have revived his career to a great extent.
The centre back pairing is expected to be the same, i.e, Bailly and Blind. Both the centre backs have been doing a great job lately and have only conceded one goal. Blind, who was criticized for the lack of his muscular presence has been a rock solid personnel alongside Bailly.
For the left back spot, the manager might use the young and dynamic, Luke Shaw. The English international was withdrawn from the England squad in Slovakia due to an ache in his calf but boss Sam Allardyce said the left back’s return to Manchester was just a precautionary measure. He hasn’t been as effective as Valencia, but his presence on the field can certainly cut the comedy for Sterling.
Holding Pair: Fellaini; Pogba-
Now, we might see the towering Belgian, Marouane Fellaini for the fourth time running. The Belgian was diagnosed with a back problem soon after the side defeated Hull City and the manager stated that he will be treated, but surprisingly, he marked his presence for his national side and played 84 minutes and this has given a great boost for Mourinho’s selection for the derby. Besides all of this, the 28-year-old has been a joy to watch; no rash tackles, no elbows flying, nothing. He has been working really well lately.
Furthermore, the manager will be using the new acquisition, Paul Pogba in the centre of the park. The Frenchman has hit the grounds running soon after his arrival.
Attacking trio: Mata; Rooney; Martial-
With Mkhitaryan looking a doubt for the game, the manager might go with the Spanish masterclass, Juan Mata.
On the parallel flank, Mourinho might use the agile, former Monaco attacker, Anthony Martial. The youngster has had an average start to his new campaign and needs to work more on his consistency. The player was pretty poor last time out, and if he tends to hold his starting place, he needs to get over his off the pitch problems as soon as possible.
With that being said, the skipper Wayne Rooney will be playing just behind the striker to support the attack. The Englishman has scored one goal and has bagged two assists to his name so far, and will be looking to add more this time around.
Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic-
Just like Valencia, the 34-year-old recently uploaded a video on his social media profile regarding the Derby clash and that has hit the platform with a bang. He failed to score against the Tigers last time out, but he knows the importance of this fixture and will be looking forward to give Otamendi and Stones a run for their money.
Man United keen on landing Ligue 1 star for a fee of about £43million
Manchester United prepare £43 million bid for Moussa Dembele
Manchester United are interested in Lyon striker Moussa Dembele (h/t Mirror)
The 23-year old has enjoyed a stellar season for Lyon and has scored 15 goals and 1 assist in 28 appearances. (h/t Whoscored)
Dembele is expected to cost in the region of £43 and is also drawing interest from Chelsea.
The Red Devils had failed to replace the outgoing Romelu Lukaku in the summer and were extremely reliant on the young Rashford for goals.
Rashford has scored 19 goals and 5 assists this season. He is the club’s top scorer and the second top assist maker. United have lacked a cutting edge in the Englishman’s absence and had been playing through injury of late.
Solksjaer was forced to bring on the striker against Wolves which unfortunately led to worsening the extent of his injury.
United currently lack a clinical player upfront. The result against Liverpool could have been different had Martial taken the chances afforded to him.
Lack of a plan?
United should have gone for a striker immediately after the signing of Lukaku. Rashford has had to play through injury and now finds himself out for 3 months.
The injury could also affect the youngster’s chances of making the England squad for the Euros. Rashford has made 201 appearances for United by the age of 22 and needs to be handled better to prevent him from burning out.
Prodigious youngsters such as Robbie Fowler and Micheal Own never got to reach the levels expected of them as they were burnt out and beset by injuries.
Dembele is an excellent player who will be an asset to United. But considering the position the club is in, it can be considered to be a step back for the Frenchman if he joins them.
The fact that the clubs has been linked to the player only after Rashford’s injury and not in spite of it reeks of a lack of long term planning.
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Dembele already has experience of playing in England for Fulham and Celtic. The 23-year old made 64 appearances for Fulham,with 2 of them coming in the English Premier League.
Man Utd to look at alternatives after refusing to sign this £68.24m star
Manchester United look at alternatives for Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United are looking at alternatives for Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
Fernandes has been linked with a move to the Red Devils since last summer and appeared to be in a strong position to sign the player in the January transfer window.
But the club now seem to have backed out of a deal citing Sporting’s sudden increase in the player’s valuation to £68.24 million.
With the clubs appearing to be unable to agree on a fee, United are considering Leicester City’s James Maddison and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish as alternatives.
A better fit!
Both Maddison and Grealish have been critical to their team’s fortunes this season at different ends of the table. It can be argued that either of them would represent a better fit for the United midfield than Fernandes.
Maddison has been one of the Leicester’s stars as they push for Champions League qualification whereas Villa would be 4 points worse off at 19th if not for Grealish’s goals.
Both the players have experience of playing in the English top-flight and will not need a bedding-in period.
Fernandes does have better numbers than either of the player. But then Grealish and Maddison have performed at a higher level in the English Premier League.
Paying over the odds will not help United in the long term. It sets a precedent with other clubs likely to hold them for ransom.
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The 2-0 loss to Liverpool highlighted the gulf in quality that now exists between United and the Premier League elite.
A massive rebuild is required in the coming windows as the Red Devils look to close the gap to their arch-rivals. Rather than overspending on foreign players who present an element of risk, United can look at domestic alternatives. As Liverpool have shown of late, there is quality available if you are willing to look for it.
Man United keen to reinforce midfield with this 24-year-old La Liga ace
Manchester United are keen on signing Marcos Llorente
Manchester United are keen on reinforcing their midfield by signing Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
The 24-year-old who plays for Atletico Madrid has impressed at the Wanda Metropolitano following his move from city rivals Real Madrid.
Llorente has made 17 appearances for Atletico this season , with a majority of them coming off the bench.(h/t Whoscored)
Having started just 3 La Liga matches this season, a loan move to United could be of interest to both parties.
The Red Devils are currently short of players in midfield after the injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.
Llorente is an assured passer of the ball and can play in central midfield in both a defensive and a holding role.
He is also an aggressive ball winner and will add much-needed energy in the United midfield. At 6 feet tall, Llorente is also an imposing presence who can deal with the physical aspect of the Premier League.
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The Spaniard came through the Real Madrid academy and has made 22 appearances for the Los Blancos.
He was a part of the Real Madrid squad that won the UEFA Champions League in 2018.
Man United veteran agrees to move to Serie A side for £1.3million in January
United skipper Ashley Young agrees to move to Inter Milan
The 34-year-old will undergo a medical on Friday prior to signing an 18-month deal with the Italian giants.
Young will join up with former United teammates Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez as Antonio Conte’s side aim to win their first Serie A in 10 years.
Antonio Conte has been a long term admirer of Young and even tried to sign him when he was at Chelsea. United were initially reluctant to sanction the player’s move in the middle of the season.
With the player keen on the switch and the prospect of losing him on a free in the summer seem to have convinced the United hierarchy to cash in on the veteran in the January transfer window.
Young joined United in the summer of 2011 and has gone on to make 261 appearances for the English giants.
The veteran, who started off as a winger has predominantly played at full-back for United the previous few seasons.
He took over as captain from Antonio Valencia at the beginning of this season
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United are 5th in the league, 5 points off Chelsea in fourth ahead of the match against arch-rivals Liverpool at Anfield.