Mahrez now has to become a big player in big games.
Like Paul Pogba already is.
Leicester City played big games in 2006, and even bigger ones in the Champions League,
But this is mega, it’s electric, it’s nothing like United v Leicester because it’s the 177th Manchester derby.
Mahrez is in great form and his first Manc derby could be his breakthrough moment. He’s fast and a very good improviser.
Manchester City romped to the title last year, zoomed up to 100 points, and had led 2-0 in this home fixture. But then Pogba scored two goals and Smalling made it 2-3.
Pep Guardiola will want to score early today and then keep on scoring. By contrast, Mourinho will park a big red bus. He’ll plan to keep it tight and scrappy, then score late.
David Silva has been at Citeh for eight years and is playing out of his skin this season.
I think it’s players, not tacticians, who will decide this derby.
Recently in Betis, Spain’s new coach Luis Enrique, used kamikaze tactics, playing a high line fiercely from the kick-off. That invited Sterling and Rashford to slice through Spain and score three goals in the first 38 minutes. I loved seeing that but realised Southgate’s Engerland would never do that again.
Rest assured that Jose Mourinho doesn’t do high lines.
He parks the bus and waits and keeps it tight and scrappy, then waits a bit longer and grabs a late goal, as United did so well in midweek when they beat Juventus 2-1 in Turin.
Porto brought Jose to our attention in 2004 when they got a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford that put them into the Champions League quarter-final. Midfielder Costinha scored in injury time and their manager sprinted down the touchline in a manic celebration.
United didn’t have a great team out that night:
Manchester Utd: Howard, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Brown, O’Shea, Fletcher, Djemba-Djemba, Butt, Giggs, Scholes, van Nistelrooy.
Subs: Carroll, Ronaldo, Saha, Bellion, Kleberson, Solskjaer, Forlan.
FC Porto: Vitor Baia, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Costa, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, Alenitchev, Costinha, Maniche, Deco, Carlos Alberto, McCarthy.
Subs: Nuno, Pedro Emanuel, Ricardo Costa, Jankauskas, Bosingwa, Ricardo Fernandes, Bruno Moraes.
I think Arsenal will beat Wolves, perhaps by one goal, and I’m convinced that Chelsea’s class will decide their game against Everton.
Because I rate Richarlison, that game could be a BTS bet.
When I see the teams, I will backing Chelsea to win.