No goals but huge emotion in drawn tie
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