No goals but huge emo­tion in drawn tie

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTSPORTSMAX - Reuters sports­desk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Manch­ester United turned to Jose Mour­inho as the an­ti­dote to their “noisy neigh­bours” Manch­ester City fi­nally achiev­ing their long-held goal of hir­ing Pep Guardiola as man­ager in 2016.

Re­united in Eng­land’s north­west af­ter two con­fronta­tional years on ei­ther side of the Barcelona-real Madrid ri­valry, where Mour­inho ended Guardiola’s three sea­sons of La Liga dom­i­nance, United clearly hoped the feisty Por­tuguese could again get un­der the Cata­lan’s skin.

But now in their third sea­sons in charge, Guardiola and Mour­inho’s reigns have in­stead seen a chasm open up with the blue half of Manch­ester now the dom­i­nant side of the city.

Win the Manch­ester derby on Sun­day and City will al­ready be 12 points clear of United just 12 games into the new sea­son, a gap that has grad­u­ally widened in each of the past three years.

“There is a quality of the work, of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, I think that is un­touch­able,” even Mour­inho ad­mit­ted on Fri­day.

STRUGGLE TO WIN

City cer­tainly seem un­touch­able at the mo­ment. Once again on top of the Premier League, a goal dif­fer­ence of plus 29 to United’s plus one tells the story of both sides con­trast­ing for­tunes so far.

United have at least shown some re­silience in re­cent weeks, com­ing from be­hind to beat Newcastle, Bournemouth and most im­pres­sively Ital­ian cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus in mid­week.

Yet, even then every vic­tory seems a struggle. Only twice have they won by more than one goal all sea­son, to City’s 12 mul­ti­ple­goal vic­to­ries.

Guardiola also boasts an im­pres­sive record against Mour­inho, los­ing just five of their 21 meet­ings. But that in­cludes the last one when United came from 2-0 down to stun the Eti­had in a 3-2 vic­tory that robbed City of the ex­tra sat­is­fac­tion of seal­ing the ti­tle against their ri­vals.

“The point is can we im­prove enough to catch them next sea­son?” Mour­inho said at the time.

Fast for­ward seven months and Mour­inho has turned on his su­pe­ri­ors at the club for his fail­ure to match City’s pro­gres­sion un­der Guardiola. “To go to the Ju­ven­tus level? Barcelona level? Real Madrid level? Manch­ester City level? How can you reach this level” he com­plained af­ter los­ing the first of United’s dou­ble header with Juve.

Mour­inho’s ar­gu­ment is that he has not had the back­ing Guardiola has in the trans­fer mar­ket, de­spite United spend­ing more than the Premier League cham­pi­ons this sum­mer.

Most of that went on Brazil­ian mid­fielder Fred, a player also cov­eted by City, but who has largely failed to make an im­pact.

There was a time with Sir Alex Fer­gu­son in charge when City fans went to der­bies more in hope than ex­pec­ta­tion. Guardiola has put the shoe on the other foot. United of the past, Jose Mour­inho seems to have in­cul­cated a ‘fight till the end’ men­tal­ity in the cur­rent lot. In the past cou­ple of weeks, United came from two goals down to win against Newcastle, drew against Chelsea de­spite trail­ing 1-0 in the first half, beat Bournemouth 2-1 af­ter con­ced­ing early and struck twice at the death to sur­prise Ju­ven­tus 2-1 in the Cham­pi­ons League. United kept a clean sheet in the league was back in Septem­ber when they beat Burnley 2-0. Since then, they have con­ceded 11 goals in seven games while scor­ing 13. Against City’s free-flowing style, United’s back­line have to give it their best to thwart the cham­pi­ons. would be also a clash be­tween two tow­er­ing coaches – Pepe Guardiola and Jose Mour­inho. The two leg­ends’ LEICESTER: Leicester City shared a 0-0 draw with Burnley at the King Power Sta­dium when foot­ball was again over­shad­owed by emo­tional trib­utes to the club’s late owner Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha. Thou­sands of sup­port­ers walked to the sta­dium from the re­lent­less with their at­tack­ing brand of foot­ball this sea­son. They rank first on every mea­sure that mat­ters. They have scored the most goals, had the most shots on tar­get and have cre­ated most num­ber of chances. Ser­gio Aguero and Raheem Ster­ling have done well in front scor­ing 13 goals be­tween them.

holes in de­fence, con­ced­ing only four goals and keeping clean sheets seven times. Much of the credit for it goes to cen­tre-back pair­ing of Aymeric La­porte and John Stones who have kept things pretty tight at the back. splen­did at the Eti­had Sta­dium this sea­son. They’re un­beaten in the league, and have pumped in 24 goals while con­ced­ing just thrice.

over City in re­cent head-to-head clashes. While Red Devils have emerged tri­umphant in four out of their last eight meet­ings, the Cit­i­zens have won only two matches in the same pe­riod. United also won the last meet­ing be­tween th­ese two sides at the Eti­had in April. Since then, though, City have won eight of the nine games at home, in­clud­ing all six this sea­son. as­so­ci­a­tion goes back to a pe­riod of over 20 years when Mour­inho was a mem­ber of Sir Bobby Rob­son's coach­ing team at the Camp Nou while Guardiola was a player there.

them to date, which also in­clude El city cen­tre be­fore the Premier League game, which was pre­ceded by two min­utes si­lence for the Thai bil­lion­aire. Vichai died in a he­li­copter match be­fore City’s last home match two weeks’ ago.

With Vichai’s fam­ily in at­ten­dance, Leicester’s play­ers, who made a 19,000 km round trip to Thai­land for the fu­neral in mid- af­ter miss­ing out the last two games while Marouane Fel­laini came on as a sub­sti­tute in Turin. An­to­nio Va­len­cia, too, is back in train­ing and might be part of the derby but Diogo Dalot is cer­tain to sit out. City, how­ever, will miss the ser­vices of Kevin de

Bruyne, Clau­dio Bravo and

Eli­aquim Man­gala. There are also doubts over Ni­co­las

Ota­mendi and Ilkay Gun­do­gan. has scored against United in their last nine clashes United won City won Cla­sico bat­tles, Guardiola has tasted vic­tory on 10 oc­ca­sions where as Mour­inho’s teams have won five games. In six matches, they have shared points. The Por­tuguese, though, has won 25 tro­phies dur­ing his ca­reer which is one more than what his Spanish coun­ter­part has man­aged so far. week, wore a spe­cial com­mem­o­ra­tive shirt, while al­most every fan sported one of the spe­cially dis­trib­uted scarves bear­ing the words “For­ever In Our Hearts”.

Jamie Vardy, who has not scored in five league games, went clos­est in the first half with a shot that was cleared off the line by Matt Low­ton as Burnley bat­tled to avoid a fourth league de­feat.

The game opened up af­ter the break, when Burnley’s Chris Wood sliced over and Ri­cardo Pereira headed wide for mid-ta­ble Leicester, who failed to score in a league game for the first time this sea­son. In other games, Cardiff City beat Brighton & Hove Al­bion 2-1, Hud­der­s­field drew West Ham United 1-1 while Newcastle beat Bournemouth 2-1.

Quite like the Manch­ester The last time Sun­day’s derby bat­tle Ta­ble-top­pers City have been City have also plugged their Manch­ester City have been How­ever, United have an edge In the 21 meet­ings be­tween Romelu Lukaku is back in train­ing

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