Copy of 2022-09-17T120438Z_1339569085_UP1EI9H0XJP3O_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-WLV-MCI-REPORT-1664630695866
Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland (centre) will relish his first Manchester derby tomorrow. Image Credit: Action Images via Reuters

The Manchester derby tomorrow is all set to be a fascinating affair. Of the previous 187 meetings, City have won 57 times, United 77 and there have been 53 draws. Five points separate the teams ahead of the season’s first meeting.

United have improved after a terrible start to the season that included a 4-0 thrashing away at Brentford but coach Erik Ten Hag has turned the clubs fortunes around since then and it is thanks to his midfield.

The engine room has played a huge role in the team’s recent resurgence and it will need to be firing on all cylinders against champions City at the Etihad Stadium. Ten Hag will need to decide if he starts with both Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes or whether it would be wiser to add some more steel in the middle of the pitch and opt for a more defensive unit. That will be a key decision for the United boss.

Negative approach

Casemiro could get his first start following his move from Real Madrid or even Scott McTominay – both would give his centre backs Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez extra protection. But many would see that as a negative approach and if United do deploy a more defense minded set up and go on to lose then Ten Hag will come under fire for changing a winning team. He may be better off going for it and if he does play with both of his playmakers then we could be in for a wide open and end to end match.

But United would risk playing right into the hands of their neighbours who boast an even better midfield. Away teams always tend to do more defending than attacking – Pep Guardiola’s team pin back the opposition with wave after wave of attacks.

Defensive work

Eriksen and Fernandes aren’t known for their defensive work and if they both start United could well be overrun in the heart of the pitch. Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva will be pulling the strings for City but the real danger for United will be Erling Haaland who is at the very top of his game right now.

How do United stop the striker who has already bagged 14 goals for his new club following his summer move from Borussia Dortmund? Martinez could be in for a torrid afternoon.

Much has been made of his meagre 5ft 9in height and with Haaland towering above him at 6ft 4in, the Norwegian will dominate in the air and with Jack Grealish hitting form this could get ugly for United. I can only see one winner here.