If City can earn victory at Old Trafford, it will put them in the driving seat to retain their Premier League trophy.
The Red Devils, meanwhile, are reeling from their spineless 4-0 thrashing at Everton on the weekend and will be keen to put in a much better performance in order to derail their neighbours’ title bid – even if it might well hand fierce rivals Liverpool the initiative.
Here are some key tactical issues for Pep Guardiola to consider:
Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are likely to be back in on both defensive flanks – which is a good thing for the Red Devils, but also for City.
Young and Shaw bring solidity to United’s defence but Young, 33, certainly has been creaking in recent weeks as he closes in on a 40-game campaign. Shaw, meanwhile, has been United’s best player this season but may be a bit rusty having missed two games with suspension. And City might see both players as weaknesses to pick at.
Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sane could look to overload Young on the left side while Raheem Sterling, in the form of his life, and Kyle Walker on the other side could combine to ensure Shaw endures a testing evening.
Bernardo Silva has been a revelation this season, so much so that he has forced himself into the Player of the Year reckoning. Namesake David has, along with Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany, been the bedrock upon which City’s success over the last decade has been built.
The diminutive dynamo’s deadliness has dimmed of late, but with Kevin De Bruyne ruled out through injury, the Spanish schemer is the perfect replacement, especially in what is a crucial game in terms of the title race, where experience is likely to prove key.
And both will be pivotal in keeping City’s stellar forwards armed against a porous United defence.
With Fernandinho anchoring the midfield and breaking up United attacks, the two Silva’s will be charged with distributing possession quickly to the likes of Sterling and Sane, as well as Aguero – who has nine goals against United.
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