Manchester United should utilise the 4-3-3 formation against Manchester City, playing to their strengths…


Manchester United and Manchester City will contest the Manchester derby for the second time this season, this time at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League. Pep Guardiola’s City side need a victory to clinch the Premier League title, the first time they could do so against United. United have not had the worst season in the history of the club but some of the incessant moaning would suggest that is the case. Many suggest that there has been no improvement but that is not the case either. City romped to victory this season and most teams have not been scared, United included.

This match is a bid to see what United have to throw at the champions-elect and whether the fear still remains, despite Liverpool showing how to beat City, twice, Wigan Athletic beating them, plus Shakhtar Donetsk and Basel getting the better of Guardiola’s team choice and tactics. This is a winnable match but it remains to see whether United want to win, whether they want to kick on as a team, or whether it turns into just another reason to get rid of the deadwood at the club and press on into next season.

Starting XI Formation and Prediction:

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish number one is the most important player to this United team right now. De Gea has 16 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, making 99 saves in the competition, conceding just 23 goals, committing no errors himself which has led to a goal being conceded. De Gea is one of, if not the best goalkeeper in world football. Some suggest Ederson, who made his debut in the Premier League at the start of the season, is much better but that is yet to be seen as right. Ederson has kept 14 clean sheets and made 51 saves, conceding 21 goals, two down to errors he committed.

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Back Four: Antonio Valencia, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Ashley Young

The defence has been a problem for United this season and still seems to be something which needs some work to make it better. Valencia is the better option (only option) at right-back and despite having problems, he has done well in his time in the defensive role. In the summer, he needs some competition, a player to bring out the best of all who could play there in the future. At left-back, Luke Shaw has seemingly run out of chances to establish himself and Young being the best option at this time, which could change before the end of the season.

Inbetween the fullbacks there needs to be a partnership allowed to be built between Lindelof and Bailly. Many had stated last summer that this could be the Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic partnership of the modern-day, but injury, lack of form and others doing more has stopped this. Lindelof needs to be tested, as does Bailly as his partner. Jose Mourinho has Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind recovered, or recovering, ahead of the run in, which will be important for United to end with a trophy on the table. Lindelof and Bailly could save United some money this summer.

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Three-Man Midfield: Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

The midfield is a lot to be questioned this season. The ingredients were right, but the recipe and the finished product have been wrong. Pogba does not seem to be the player he could be, which is problematic. He needs to play a run of matches to establish some sort of form. This will be his first derby this season after being suspended for the first back in December. Playing alongside Matic and McTominay will give the Frenchman that license to break forward and plat to his strengths but it will also see United losing a player who bridges the midfield with the attack.

Defensively, Matic is an able player, despite being called upon a lot this season, which has been problematic and will result in new midfielders being sought this summer, with Marouane Fellaini seemingly leaving on a free and Michael Carrick retiring at the close of the season. McTominay has earned his place this season, at one stage ahead of Pogba. Playing three players in the midfield could help break City down but Pogba will need to get stuck into the game and show why United paid £89 million to bring him back to the Theatre of Dreams.

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Forwards: Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial

United’s forward line has everything it needs to be impressive, but that is something that struggles to come to life. The fluidity here seems to be because of the defence and the fact everything at the back seems to be a struggle, at times. With a decent defence, the attack could thrive. Playing Sanchez, Lukaku, and Martial together, as a three may work to give City something to think about, much alike what Liverpool threw at them earlier in the week. Lukaku has scored 26 goals for United this season, the same number of goals scored for Everton last season.

Sanchez found some form against Swansea City last weekend, scoring his second goal for the club and assisting Lukaku’s opener during the 45-minute display in which United had seemingly found their feet in an attacking sense. Martial, a player who is able to bring out the best of himself at any time is a surety to get stuck in and aim to keep City’s defence on their front foot, exposing space and showing his ability to score or even assist. This could be the method to break City down and leave them winless in two matches, with Liverpool heading to the Etihad on Tuesday.

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