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THE MANCHESTER DERBY: FIVE TALKING POINTS

rsz derbyday

Old Trafford will host the Manchester derby on Sunday in what is clearly the biggest game of the season so far. There are plenty of talking points ahead of the 16:30 GMT kick-off…

1: CAN WE CLOSE THE GAP?
That’s the question on the lips of every United fan as Jose Mourinho’s men look to rein in the Premier League leaders, who are currently eight points ahead in the title race. The Reds have won all 11 home matches this season and could set a club record on Sunday by going 41 games unbeaten at Old Trafford.

City, meanwhile, are undefeated in the Premier League this campaign and have a 100 per cent record on the road. Clearly, something has to give at the Theatre of Dreams this weekend…

2: WILL CITY HAVE A EUROPEAN HANGOVER?
Pep Guardiola’s men suffered a first defeat of the season on Wednesday night when losing 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. The City manager made seven changes to his team and rested many of his big players, including Kevin De Bruyne, but Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero (a substitute) all played. It remains to be seen if the long flight home will have an impact, although a Sunday late kick-off will help.

3: WHO WILL REPLACE POGBA?
We know that Paul is suspended following his red card against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday. Mourinho has already confirmed Nemanja Matic will definitely play, so who will partner him in central midfield? If Marouane Fellaini is fit to play, then he’ll offer a combative option, while Ander Herrera is another who could be suited to a high-energy role around the park.

In terms of other absentees, the manager has admitted Eric Bailly and Michael Carrick do not have a chance of returning, but also revealed Phil Jones and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could both feature.

4: CAN LINGARD CONTINUE HIS TOP FORM?
Jesse scored a Goal of the Season contender in the 4-2 win at Watford and was at the double against Arsenal. His two goals at the Emirates proved the difference against the Gunners, taking his total for the season to six goals and he’ll be itching to get a run out in the derby as a local lad. Notably, the Academy graduate was rested for the Champions League win over CSKA Moscow.

5: THREE AT THE BACK AGAIN?
United have played with three centre-backs in the last three wins against Watford, Arsenal and CSKA. But will Mourinho opt for the same formation again, and who will feature? It was Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind who got the nod in midweek, but Marcos Rojo was preferred to the Dutchman for the previous two outings. Phil Jones also has a chance of being fit for this one. 

 

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