Arsenal legend Paul Merson backs Harry Maguire to help Manchester United achieve a potential upset against its rivals Manchester City.
Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson believes Harry Maguire gives “underdogs” Manchester United a chance to surprise Manchester City. The Red Devils will face their local arch-rivals in the Premier League derby match at Old Trafford on Sunday.
United are coming into the game after three consecutive victories in all competitions after a dreadful start to the season. United manager Erik ten Hag saw his team suffer an injury crisis and inconsistent performances in various positions.
On the other hand, City have surprisingly lost three of their last six games in all competitions. The Citizens have shown surprising vulnerability as they also faced an injury crisis to their important players this season.
Merson told Sky Sports that Maguire makes United better and the underdogs can cause an upset against their local rivals. He said:
“Manchester United are a better team with Harry Maguire in it. Maguire hasn’t got much to lose in this game. People will be expecting him, and United, to struggle against City. It’s not a bad time for United to play City. United do go into this game as massive underdogs but it does help in some ways because the fans will stick with them.”
Ten Hag has preferred Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez as his first-choice centre-back since taking charge of the club. The decision limited the game time for Maguire last season as he fell down the pecking order.
Furthermore, Maguire lost his captaincy due to his inability to win back the starting role under Ten Hag. The 30-year-old had the opportunity to sign for West Ham United during the summer but opted to stay.
The England international has made the most of each opportunity Ten Hag has given him so far this season. United lost six games out of 13 matches in all competitions yet lost none in the four games he started. Maguire has appeared in six matches so far in all competitions while contributing to a goal and an assist.
The 30-year-old played a pivotal role in the last three consecutive victories for United, proving his importance in the squad.
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United are facing the Citizens as an underdog and find themselves in a situation where they can play without pressure. Maguire has given his teammates a strong reason to trust his ability in fortifying the defence. We think the United team can play their game and hurt the defending champions as they’ve shown plenty of vulnerabilities.