Manchester has always been divided, and the usual question one will face is “Are you a blue or a red?” Well, it looks like one side of the city could end up rejoicing and having the last laugh over their rivals come the end of the season if they carry on playing like this.
Both Manchester United and Manchester City are having excellent starts to the season and sit atop the Premier League (well technically Manchester City do because of alphabetical order), and both have all the same amount of wins, draws and losses. They even have the same number of goals scored, goals against and obviously goal difference. It is has been a great start to the season but can both sides keep up the momentum until May?
Starting with The Citizens, it looks like things are clicking under Guardiola. With a rocky first season defensively, City have only conceded two goals so far in the league. With John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi finding a new partnership together in the past three games (including Europe) they have kept a clean sheet in all three of those games. With no Vincent Kompany available in those games there is the question as to where he will fit in? But is there any point forcing him back in when these two are finally finding their feet?
As you would expect with all the money City have spent in the attack is that they are potent going forward. With Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero clicking together up front it comes as no surprise that they have scored 11 goals between them in all competitions. Their prolific nature has been helped by their midfielders such as Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Bernardo Silva who have all found their frontman and even contributed with a few goals so far.
However, there is one man in the Manchester City team who is developing into one of the best players in the world, and that is the Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne. The fiery-haired midfielder is just unstoppable at the moment and is exactly the player Guardiola needs to dominate the Premier League. He is doing a lot without the ball which frees up space for the creative attacking midfielders. But that is not to say the 26-year-old does nothing with the ball because four assists in all competitions show that he is really hitting his peak with the blue side of Manchester.
It is time to head to Old Trafford where they are looking as strong as ever in defence. With Eric Bailly and Phil Jones at the heart of the defence, the Red Devils look quick and strong enough to cope with whatever is thrown at them. Having not conceded a goal at home this season it looks like the scare factor is coming back to The Theatre of Dreams which has become a place of nightmares since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013.
The signing of the season for United has got to be Nemanja Matic. He was the type of player they needed to replace the ageing Michael Carrick and balance the midfield. His discipline in the heart of the pitch allows his other midfielders the freedom they need to express themselves. The likes of Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have prospered this season from Matic’s influence, with both players in fine form already.
One of the main gripes last season was the fact that United were slow going forward and lacked intensity when they attacked. Now Jose Mourinho has pace in abundance with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial starting the season incredibly well contributing to eight goals in all competitions for United.
However, the main reason they have been hitting teams for four is Romelu Lukaku. The former Everton forward has six goals in all competitions and has added a lot of pace to the attack that looked sluggish moving forward. His raw power makes him a real handful and a major factor to making Manchester United a real force again.
Both managers know that there is a long way to go in the season and they have to prove certain doubters wrong in their second season in charge. However, Guardiola is a serial winner and Mourinho has won titles in the Premier League before so the English press cannot write them off as failures just two years into the job.
You do feel that when it comes to it that Mourinho’s Premier League experience will be a deciding factor and the fact he is the master of mind games. However, Guardiola beat Manchester United last season at Old Trafford and drew with them at the Etihad; the latter this season in April could prove to be a deciding game in the title race.
Early days but signs pointing towards Manchester
Obviously, five games are not the end of the season but with Spurs faltering at home, Liverpool struggling against lower sides and Arsenal being inconsistent, the two Manchester clubs are in the driving seat already. With Chelsea their only real competitors, who sit one win behind them, the trophy could be on its way to London again, but you still have the feeling that Antonio Conte is not happy there after failing to get the targets he wanted in the transfer window.
The two clubs are the two fastest teams out of the blocks, and they show no signs of slowing down. We could be in for a thriller of a year again between the two Manchester sides just like in the 2011/12 season. Cue Martin Tyler.