Manchester United take on rivals Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils knowing that a win will take them only five points behind Pep Guardiola’s men.
City have looked vulnerable in recent weeks, but have continued to pick up crucial wins. Huddersfield Town, Southampton and West Ham United were all unlucky not to gain anything against City but those matches are a source of encouragement for Jose Mourinho.
City showed elements of weakness in those games and if United target these certain areas, then the three points could be won.
1) Set Pieces
It is a well known fact that Manchester City aren’t the best at defending set-pieces and have looked extremely shaky when opposition sides put balls into the box.
United need to have immaculate set-piece deliveries on Sunday and can’t afford any corners or free-kicks failing to beat the first man. Getting a corner against City will be hard enough so when the opportunity arises, the delivery has to be accurate.
Also, besides Vincent Kompany, City don’t have the biggest players, which automatically gives us an advantage. The likes of Chris Smalling, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku should all feel confident in the air going into this game and of course, there is Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who can also be a nuisance in the air.
City conceded from corners against Huddersfield and West Ham, so it’s their obvious weak spot.
2) Attack their left-side of defence
Losing Benjamin Mendy was a real blow for City. Fabian Delph has covered into the left-back position but when he has come up against good wingers, he’s looked vulnerable. Danilo is also an option to start, but he has struggled to settle in since he moved to City.
The likes of Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku need to peel away onto Delph (or Danilo) and run directly at him to get him on the back foot. Lingard should be confident of beating Delph with ease.
Also, Leroy Sane doesn’t have the best record of tracking back and helping out his full-back so if United try to attack down City’s left as much as possible, it could open up an opportunity to score.
3) Nullify De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne has the keys to unlock every defence in the Premier League. However, take him out of the picture and City will have a huge creative hole in their side.
United need Ander Herrera or Nemanja Matic to follow the Belgian everywhere he goes. Herrera may be better suited as he has already done the same job on Eden Hazard last season.
De Bruyne has eight assists in the league but without his creativity, City will find it hard to give service to their strikers and wingers, who thrive off his through balls.
Keep him quiet, which is easier said than done, then we have a great chance of inflicting a first defeat of the season on City.
What do you think? How do you think is the best way to exploit City?
Leave a comment below or get in touch on social media!
Marouane Fellaini received a straight red card for a headbutt on Sergio Aguero as Manchester United defended resolutely to earn a point in a disappointing goal-less Manchester Derby at the Etihad stadium.
The Belgian midfielder had a minute to forget as he received a yellow card for fouling Aguero. Seconds later, he fouled the striker again who got up in anger and squared up to Fellaini, who lost his cool and pushed his head into the Argentinian. Martin Atkinson had no choice but to show a straight red card with six minutes remaining.
City created the first clear cut chance of the game as Aguero hit the outside of the post from four yards out. United could have taken the lead as Claudio Bravo was typically hesitant at dealing with a looping ball and slapped it into the path of Armenian Mkhitaryan, who fired straight into the grateful arms of the keeper.
The best chance of the game fell to the unmarked Ander Herrera who directed his header wide of the post from an in-swinging delivery from the lively Marcus Rashford.
Gabriel Jesus had the ball in the net with a couple of minutes remaining only for the linesman to put his flag up for offside. City hardly tested United goalkeeper De Gea as the Reds move to 24 games unbeaten in the Premier League.
United remain fifth, one point behind City and two points behind Liverpool with a game in hand.
United boss Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports: “We wanted to do more in terms of attacking and to explore more of the counter attack. In the first half we had good control but the second became more difficult. We had to make a decision to play for the draw and had to fight hard to take a point.
“I didn’t watch the Fellaini incident on TV but I spoke with Fellaini. I guess it’s a bit of a red card and a bit of a very smart, very experienced Argentinian player.”
Manchester United captain Michael Carrick on Sky Sports: “It’s a point gained. We thought we could catch City on the break and we did have a couple of chances. It makes things more difficult when you go down to 10 men.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola on BBC Sport: “I am satisfied. I know how difficult it is to play against Manchester United. Every game until the last game now will be a final.”
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany on Sky Sports: “We got a point. It’s not bad but we never felt like the game was difficult. Rashford and Martial have so much ability and such a bright future ahead. They are lightning quick and with a bit more experience can cause a lot more trouble.”
United will feel that decisions went against them from referee Atkinson, as Mkhitaryan and Rashford were fouled cynically by Fernandinho and Otamendi, who both escaped without a yellow card. Herrera was also angered by a fierce challenge from Fernandinho, who surprisingly went into the interval without a booking.
It seemed to be a City tactic to disrupt the runs of Rashford off the ball, with many instances of shirt pulling going unseen by the officials. Rashford was constantly in the ear of Atkinson telling him to keep an eye out for challenges off the ball but the referee didn’t seem to spot anything.
Anthony Martial was also on the receiving end of an off the ball foul from Kompany and the tactic was hugely frustrating for the United attackers.
The red card for Fellaini is a difficult one. The Belgian does lean his head into Aguero and makes contact, and as Jose said it was very clever from the striker to get Fellaini to react. I think it was a red card and it was in the heat of the moment but we showed that defensively, we can get the job done.
Mourinho started Rashford out wide, but throughout the half the front three of United kept rotating positions. This was disrupting the City defence and it ultimately led to United’s first half chance of the game as Rashford got beyond Kolarov and laid the ball off to Herrera, who curled the ball towards the back post which Zabaleta had to turn behind for a corner. City had been given their first warning sign.
They didn’t learn and were nearly punished when Rashford outpaced Otamendi to the ball and was racing through only for the defender to get a crucial touch on the ball to send it out for a corner kick.
The interchanging of the United attackers kept the City defenders guessing and also helped out the United fullbacks defensively. Each player was taking turns in the wide role to track the attacking City fullbacks whilst the centre forward would get somewhat of a breather. The tactic worked well as United shut off the supply lines from wide areas which restricted City’s chances of scoring.
It was clear to see that United were missing the presence of Paul Pogba in midfield as we could hardly string together 10 passes in the second half. The Frenchman would have added flair in the midfield and given us more in an attacking sense. The front three put a really good shift in and their attitude was spot on throughout the game.
Pep Guardiola showed that he trusts Claudio Bravo by selecting him to start in goal but the Chilean made an absolute howler which nearly resulted in a United goal. It seemed like a deflected cross would be a routine catch for Bravo, who instead flapped the ball straight into the path of Mkhitaryan, but the Armenian fired straight into the arms of the relieved Chilean.
City had majority of the possession but could not find a way through United’s solid backline. They were limited to long range efforts which were comfortable for David De Gea. Even in the absence of Rojo, Smalling and Jones, United were solid at the back with Daley Blind fitting in perfectly at centre back.
Overall, the result keeps us in the hunt for a top 4 position, with a win in our game in hand taking us above Liverpool. United face Swansea next at Old Trafford this Sunday in a must win game.
What did you think of the game? A point gained or two points dropped?
Did Fellaini deserve the red card?
Let us know by leaving a comment below, or by tweeting us @UnitedStandMUFC or my personal account @AbzMulla6.
The Sunday shows are back and this week presenter Mark Goldbridge is joined by regulars Zarah and Alex. They will be discussing top dogs Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola and giving their thoughts on who will come out on top.
So Manchester City have finally confirmed the world’s worst kept secret and announced that outgoing Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola will take over the reigns at The Ethiad from next season. The question is, with Manchester City now going for broke, how can Manchester United counteract what could effectively prove to be checkmate?
My initial reaction to the news that Guardiola had made Manchester City his next venture was one of anger. As I let it sink it, it was still anger. How could Manchester United, the biggest club in the world lose out on the most sought-after coach in world football? Worse still, how could they lose out to the ‘noisy neighbours’? Whichever way one looks at it, this could prove to be the biggest and most fatal error made by Ed Woodward. Manchester City have everything in place to dominate European football for years to come whilst Woodward’s blind faith in Louis Van Gaal could leave United playing catch up.
Manchester City have been ruthless. Nobody agreed with the sacking of Mark Hughes and the treatment of Pelligrini has echoes of that that Sparky endured at the beginning of their takeover. However, what City have recognised is that the capture of Guardiola is a significant one. Pellegrini has, without doubt, been a success at City and could still end this season with four trophies. It would seem, at first glance certainly, that outing the Chilean is incredibly harsh and winning at least one of those trophies would back that fact up. However, Guardiola is worth taking that risk. United, and Woodward in particular, have once again failed by failing to act quickly.
Pellegrini has won two trophies in two seasons at City, whilst over at Old Trafford Louis Van Gaal can’t get a win over Bournemouth. The truth of the matter is that, with Louis Van Gaal in charge, United cannot expect to get anywhere near a Manchester City side with Guardiola at the helm. In truth, with Van Gaal in charge, United can’t get anywhere near a Leicester side with Claudio Ranieri in charge.
The way I see it is that United are now left with no choice. United now need to follow their neighbours lead and chase the next best thing…Jose Mourinho. I get the reasons not to appoint him, I really do. His lack of use of youth players is a real worry, and the one reason I would have picked Guardiola over him. The other reason, the one many United fans have voiced concern over, is one that I cannot get my head around. Negative football. Ok, yes, Mourinho plays a brand of football that is not particularly pleasing on the eye. However, is it any worse than what we are witnessing right now? The answer is of course no. The difference is that it is effective. LVG currently plays negative football, we all know that by now, but the end result is not one that Mourinho will achieve.
And then there is the one big fact, the one that cannot be ignored under any circumstance. Who is the only manager to stop Pep Guardiola winning a league title? You guessed it…Jose Mourinho.
This afternoon saw confirmation of the world’s worst footballing secret as outgoing Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola stated his intention to move to England, and the Premier League, once his contract ends with the German champions this summer. The news immediately sent Twitter into a frenzy as the world debated the Spaniards next destination, with Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and, of course, United the front runners.
Whilst many claim that it is the ‘The United Way’ to give managers time to achieve success, it is worth noting that Louis Van Gaal was never in it for the long haul. By his own admission, his intention was, and more than likely still is, to retire at the end of his contract in the summer of 2017. Three years was always going to be the most United were going to get out of their preferred choice to succeed David Moyes.
Cutting short this three year tenure to poach arguably the best club coach in the world cannot, in whichever way one spins it, be viewed upon as negative. Imagine Guardiola in charge of City, or Chelsea, with a blank cheque book at his disposal…scary isn’t it? Now imagine Guardiola in charge of United with that same blank cheque book…get it?
Guardiola is a coach which fits in with the profile of ‘The United Way’. Attacking, exciting football? Check. Promotes and believes in bringing in youth? Check. Proven track record of winning trophies at the highest level? Check.
Yes, Louis Van Gaal at least ticks two of them boxes, but it is plain to see that his best days are now behind him. Let’s think of this from a players perspective for example. Hypothetically, Lionel Messi is available and potentially wanting to join the club but it must be at the expense of a 36-year-old club legend. Would you stick or twist?
Claiming that replacing LVG with Guardiola (who, let’s not forget, has at least shown signs in the past that Old Trafford is one of his favoured future destinations) is not intended to promote any kind of hostility. No, quite the opposite. It is the sensible thing, and the right thing, to do and, if the opportunity is there, it is one that must be grasped with both hands.