Gary Neville has outlined how Manchester United can get the better of City in the Manchester derby this weekend, despite the absence of their talisman Paul Pogba.
United and City clash at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon with the hosts looking to chip away at Pep Guardiola’s side’s eight-point lead at the Premier League summit.
Jose Mourinho will be unable to call upon Pogba after the France midfielder’s dismissal at Arsenal on Saturday. Neville admits it is a huge blow but remains confident Mourinho still has options to hurt Guardiola’s side.
“City is a big game to not have Pogba,” Neville told Sky Sports. “The person who can break the line is gone, but Mourinho will be looking at how he can do it differently.
“I was trying to think myself what Jose will be thinking. Do you play split strikers with Martial and Lukaku? City bring their full-backs in narrow while two centre-backs push up the pitch. United could just leave two strikers stretched wide and you play three central midfielders and five at the back, and trust that the front two will get into those areas.”
City have claimed maximum points from three games over the last week but Guardiola’s side left it until ‘the Fergie time’ to beat Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham.
Neville believes those games will have given Mourinho food for thought.
“United might, for the first time this season, have just seen a little ray of hope, that there will be better teams than Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham, yet all came close,” he told the Sky Sports podcast.
“All three played a certain way and got joy with certain things: counter-attack has been a problem for City this week; set-pieces and corners have been a problem this week; deep and compact defences have also been a problem this week in terms of breaking them down.
“You would argue, given what happened at Arsenal on Saturday, that United do have that counter-attack ability with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard, and that they do have the ability to score from set-pieces, and they are a better defensive unit than Southampton or West Ham.
“United will be confident going into the game because of what has happened this weekend for City, even though it has been a good week for City too, as they’ve scored three late winners and have taken maximum points.”