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This weekend’s Manchester derby is one of the most eagerly awaited games in Premier League history with more sub-plots than an Agatha Christie novel.

It is not only the 172nd meeting between the two clubs it is the renewal of a rivalry between two heavyweights of management in Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

On top of that we have the bitterness between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Guardiola, while the showdown at Old Trafford will also be the most expensive match-up in the history of football with over £670million spent on transfer fees on both sets of players.

Manchester is the capital of English football right now with the arrival of arguably the two best managers in world football adding extra star quality to the fixture and upping the ante in a fiercely contested rivalry.

A lot has changed since the end of last season when City could only finished in fourth and United came in at fifth as they found themselves also-rans in the title race.

Guardiola and Mourinho have quickly got about stamping their mark on their respective clubs and these two antagonists will be expecting their sides to be competing for the title come the end of the season.

Mourinho has helped bring back an air of arrogance to United with the statement signings of Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba and his impact has helped lift the morale of players and supporters who did not enjoy the travails of Louis van Gaal for the last two seasons.

Guardiola as you would expect has given City a new impetus and vibrancy that was so lacking under Manuel Pellegrini last season as City’s inconsistency cost them the opportunity of mounting a serious title challenge.
The Spaniard will be given time to try and implement his brand of football at City and rebuild the side in his own image to try and help City become a global power at home and abroad.

The two managers have also outlined their ruthlessness and decisiveness by banishing big names and big reputations to the sidelines with Mourinho casting German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger to the shadows and Guardiola packing England’s No.1 goalkeeper Joe Hart off to Torino on loan.

The two sides have won their three opening matches in the Premier League and it is the first time they two teams will go into the Manchester derby with 100% records – so something has got to give on Saturday afternoon.

It may be a bit too early in the season to bill the game as a title decider, but the result ought to reveal a great deal about the title hopes of the two teams and could pave the way for the rest of the campaign for both sides.

As well as claiming three points and the bragging rights in the city victory in the derby could strike a crucial psychological blow for either team which could prove decisive come the end of the season.

The history between the two managers makes their first Manchester derby encounter a statement encounter and neither will be looking to end up on the losing side at Old Trafford.

The rivalry between these two cannot be understated and ensures the action on the sidelines will almost be as gripping as that on the pitch.

Mourinho and Guardiola worked together at Barcelona between 1996-2000, when Mourinho was a coach and Guardiola was a player, but any relationship they had has soured since they have come into confrontation as opposing managers.

In 16 meetings between the pair Guardiola comes out on top with seven wins with Mourinho victorious on three occasions and six draws, but the results only tell half the story with plenty of bad blood spilt between the duo.

All the eyes of the world will be on Old Trafford this weekend, the stage has been set and the gloves are off so let’s see who can land the first knockout blow in one what should be one of the most intriguing Premier League title races.

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