Man United will host Man City at Old Trafford in tonight’s EFL Cup tie – a Manchester derby match that Guardiola deems a ‘final.’
Pep Guardiola has enjoyed a brilliant start in his first season at the Etihad, effectively silencing critics about his chances of surviving the rigours of English football. So far, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has overseen 15 games with Man City across all competitions, which has seen him record a remarkable feat of 10 straight victories at the start of the campaign. His current winning percentage in the Premier League (and overall) stands at 66.66%, and they top the table with 20 points.
For the second time this season, Guardiola will go head to head with his former nemesis Jose Mourinho in the highly anticipated Manchester derby in tonight’s EFL Cup match. When the pair met in the Premier League on September 10th, the Catalan got the better of his biggest opponent with the scoreline reading 2-1 for the visitors at Old Trafford after the final whistle was blown.
“I think everyone can believe this competition is not the big one but I am going to prepare to win the game. For the players who play, we’ll be depending on them to make the best performance possible. It is a final,” stressed the 45-year-old manager. “I don’t understand my job if I play a game thinking another game is more important – that is the most important.”
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It’s no surprise that Man United are favourites 2.50 (3/2) for the EFL Cup Manchester derby clash, since they’ll be playing in front of their home crowd. Man City on the other hand are underdogs heading into the Manchester derby tonight, with odds of 2.80 (9/5), while a draw between the two sides stands at 3.25 (9/4).
‘The Special One’ hasn’t been so special at the Theatre of Dreams as of yet, struggling to get the best out of his players, including the world’s most expensive player Paul Pogba – Man United lashed out a record-breaking £89 million for the 23-year-old last summer. And to make things even more strange, Mourinho has hinted that Pogba could one day ditch the centre of the pitch – for which he was bought to operate in – to become a ‘phenomenal central defender.’
Despite not winning a match since their 3-1 win over Swansea on September 24, Man City don’t really need a victory in tonight’s Manchester derby, especially since it’s a competition that youngsters normally feature in. Conversely, Jose Mourinho’s side are in desperate need to uplift their spirits after underperforming both domestically and on the continent for some time now. A victory for Man City wouldn’t really make a difference for them, while a victory for the Old Trafford side could see a reversal in their fortunes on all fronts.