With both Manchester clubs enjoying 100% record till now, something is going to give when they meet on Saturday for the 172nd derby at Old Trafford. The match has reached an anticipation of epic proportions and while Manchester City would have loved to have Sergio Aguero on the pitch, his truant elbow had other things in mind. The two teams, the history and the managers. All of these are adding up to a blockbuster event on Saturday and whichever team manages to triumph, will lay down a marker for the season. With the excitement reaching fever pitch we will briefly look at the three key battles which has the potential to influence the outcome of the match.
ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC VS JOHN STONES
World beater vs potential world-beater. Experience vs Youth. One of the many exciting sub-plots to look forward to. John Stones has climbed the ladder quickly ever since joining City but one of his biggest tests will be in the form of an imperious Zlatan. Having enjoyed a lion’s share of the possession in recent matches he will have to excel as a tackler and the defensive side of his game has to come to the fore. And if the young English international is able to give a good account of himself, it will well and truly propel him into the spotlight.
RAHEEM STERLING VS LUKE SHAW
The two English stars belong to the same category of high-priced English teenagers and with a combined worth of around £80m, have lots to offer in their career. Shaw has shown excellent mental resolve to come back strongly after the horrendous leg break last September. His performances have been top notch and he will prove to be Sterling’s toughest challenge yet this season.
Raheem Sterling has been having a mini-renaissance of his own as he goes about his quest to emerge as a world-beater under the care of Pep Guardiola. Having spun a web around the left-backs till now, he will have to bring his A-game to get past Shaw’s defence at Old Trafford.
PEP GUARDIOLA VS JOSE MOURINHO
Perhaps the most important battle will be played out on the touchline as the two friends-turned-foes square up to each other with the backdrop being the Manchester Derby. After numerous spars in the La Liga which was heavily dominated by Pep, the jury is still out on who the better coach is due to the Portuguese national’s success all over the world. But with no Messi by Pep’s side, many believe this will go a long way into deciding the age old feud.