Manchester City vs Manchester United: Where the match will be decided in Erik ten Hag’s favour – Man United News And Transfer News

The balance of power has undoubtedly shifted in Manchester but the form book goes out of the window in a derby.

Liverpool have been on the receiving end of two transformative performances against Manchester United since Erik ten Hag’s took charge, and now United need a version of that against Manchester City.

In a bit of positive history under Ten Hag, their best performances have come up in an unexpected way when their backs have been against the wall and nobody expects anything of them.

Having said that, history will count for nothing now, with Erling Haaland and co. looking to keep their remarkable run going, while getting the chance for a statement win against their big rivals.

Here are the three battles where the game will be won or lost for Ten Hag’s men-

Erling Haaland vs Raphael Varane

Sometimes the most straightforward answer is the right one. There’s no need to be tactically clever and go for the hipster’s choice just to be different and sound smart.

Erling Haaland scores goals, United concede a lot of shots, that’s a nightmare combination and a one-way ticket to a loss.

Haaland especially loves scoring against United and hit a hattrick in this fixture last year in a 6-2 win for Guardiola’s men. He comes into the game scoring five against Luton and perhaps more ominously, linking up well with Kevin de Bruyne (more on him later).

Raphael Varane is the leader of the United backline and perhaps the only defender right now who can match Haaland, or at least get close to him, physically and in pace.

He has been an unassuming reliable presence as players around him have chopped and changed. A leader’s display will be required of him for United to have any chance of a clean sheet in the game.

Kevin de Bruyne vs Casemiro

Simple answer number 2, and the right one again. The De Bruyne-Haaland combination always looked like a match made in heaven but it didn’t materialise to that extent until the Luton game.

Four assists to the Norwegian by De Bruyne in that game came at the worst possible time for United.

United’s chaotic pressing off the ball leads to the midfield having acres of space. For a player who needs only a sliver of it to cause devastation, De Bruyne would be licking his lips seeing United’s shape in defence this year.

Casemiro has often been left on an island as every other player has either been bypassed ahead or is running towards their own goal behind him.

He will need to have a faultless game and roll back the years to hold that midfield together. De Bruyne is the lockpicking master and United defend with an open gate. You’re up, Casemiro.

Marcus Rashford vs Ruben Dias 

For a player who has often been labelled as the best in the league, Ruben Dias has had some curiously mediocre performances against United.

He is the defender least comfortable in possession and is prone to getting outpaced when tasked with defending through balls in behind.

If Marcus Rashford can find some semblance of form that makes him such a threat on transitions, at least City will have something to worry about when they inevitably settle into a rhythm of bossing possession and probing for chances.

Rashford also has had the tendency to turn up for games against rivals. In Hojlund’s absence, he hasn’t stepped up at all so far. Actions speak louder than words and after his recent comments on how much he cares about United, it’s time to show it with his actions.

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