The Red Devils 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 in the battle for Premier League glory.
If City, meanwhile, can earn victory, it will put them in the driving seat to retain their trophy.
Here are some key tactical issues for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to consider:
LEGS IN MIDFIELD
Fitness and energy are key components this United side lack under Solskjaer. The Norwegian boss has bemoaned the fact his reign has been bereft of the benefits of a pre-season schedule.
With a need to ring the changes and reinstall pride, Solskjaer would be wise to reintroduce a fit-again Ander Herrera. For all the furore over his future, the Spaniard’s bite and drive has been sorely missing in recent weeks.
Nemanja Matic was well below par on Sunday and United need pace and athleticism in the engine room against a marauding City. Herrera, in a midfield three alongside Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba, would provide United with a junkyard dog figure they sorely need.
His energy and sniping can help overwhelm Fernandinho and cut out City’s creativity when defending. And when United have the ball, he can then shift across to help cover Pogba and allow the Frenchman to create.
ELEMENT OF SURPRISE
Solskjaer could decide to fight fire with fire at Old Trafford and that could mean springing a few shocks – with the reintroduction of Alexis Sanchez from the cold, or even a start for Mason Greenwood.
Sanchez looked bright in a cameo at the Camp Nou and could come in for either Anthony Martial or Romelu Lukaku, who are likely to be casualties from Sunday.
Solskjaer has talked of wanting United players to show their passion and that could lead to someone like local lad Greenwood getting the nod, while Jesse Lingard is also sure to start.
Say what you want about Lingard’s ability, he’s the sort of player who can drag players out of position and poke holes in a City defence which has looked ramshackle recently.
In playing the likes of Greenwood, Lingard, Sanchez and Diogo Dalot, Solskjaer would be mirroring City’s use of small, sharp and incisive players who, while lacking in stature, have the surgical skills to pierce City’s softness.
Know more about Sport360 Application