After an invariably tiresome international break, Manchester United are back in action on Saturday, welcoming Pep Guardiola and Co to Old Trafford for what promises to be the most explosive derby in recent history.
The famous rivalry between Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, established in Spain, will be renewed; two sides with 100% record, aspirations for the title and a thirst for bragging rights have the opportunity to lay down the first serious marker in this year’s race for the title. Man United can only adopt one approach on Saturday: to come out with all guns violently blazing. And with that in mind, here are three players that Mourinho must start against the noisy neighbours.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Four goals already under his belt, refreshed after an extended break following the victory against Hull, and furiously determined to inflict maximal pain on the opposition. One feels that games of such magnitude and intense rivalry were made for the big Swede, especially as he goes up against Guardiola – a man who certainly doesn’t make it onto Zlatan’s Christmas card list after the two encountered a series of schisms at Barcelona.
Anthony Martial: The Frenchman has made a comparatively muted start under Mourinho in relation to last season. That said, scoring his first goal for France – alongside putting in a rip-roaring performance – will serve as a huge confidence booster for the 20-year-old, who will go into the derby with a spring in his step.
Paul Pogba: He may only be two games into his (second) United career, but it is already evident that Pogba is the centrepiece of Mourinho’s system. The side’s dynamism, power and forward thinking attitude stems from the 23-year-old, who dictates proceedings from midfield with that unmistakable aura of omnipotence. Not only is this a game that the world’s most expensive player must feature in, this is a game he needs to dominate.