Manchester City will look to continue their excellent home record when they host cross-town rivals Manchester United in a couple of hours. The Sky Blues are leading the table with 29 points on the board but any mishap could potentially enable Chelsea or Liverpool to overtake them at the top by the end of the day.
United, on the other hand, are coming on the back of a three-game winning run in all competitions. Their recent victory came against Juventus, making this a more even contest at the outset.
Let us take a look at 3 key battles we feel will have an impact on the outcome.
Kyle Walker vs Anthony Martial
Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker will face a stern test against Anthony Martial.
The Manchester United man has been in fiery form, of late, scoring five goals in his last four Premier League appearances, which ideally makes him the most important player for United going forward.
His sheer pace coupled with his incisive movements could create a plethora of problems for City, who boast the best defence in the league, having conceded just four goals. Fortunately for City, Walker is also blessed with some serious pace along with a great positional sense.
Thus, the onus will be on Walker to minimize Martial’s attacking contribution on the right-flank, succeeding which could seriously weaken United’s attacking potential in the final third.
Sergio Aguero vs Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof
It is turning out to be yet another productive season for Sergio Aguero, who has already plundered seven goals in the league. Four of them have come in the last six matches, the latest of which came in the 6-1 rout over Southampton last weekend.
Therefore, it goes without saying that Aguero is the definite danger man for Man City upfront. And the onus will be on United’s central defensive pairing of Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling to prevent the Argentine from adding to his tally.
Both the defenders have fared well in recent matches and have put together 80 clearances between them this season. Their primary objective will be to isolate Aguero in and around the final third, restricting him from linking up with his teammates.
Fernandinho vs Paul Pogba
Despite his fair share of critics, Paul Pogba is undoubtedly United’s best midfielder and his qualities in the centre could be key in such a high-octane fixture.
The Frenchman is blessed with superb ball-playing qualities, which will help United infiltrate the City defence as they will most likely play on the counter.
Therefore, stopping him will be imperative if Manchester City are to have the upper hand in midfield and that’s where Fernandinho comes in.
The Brazilian international will be tasked with the responsibility of nullifying Pogba in the centre, thus limiting United’s opportunities on the counter – making this arguably the most vital personal duel in the Manchester derby this evening.