Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola: The Landmark 20th Clashby Jack Kitson / 07 December 2017, 14:21Tweet
Two of the most high-profile, prosperous and acclaimed managers of the modern-day era lock horns for the landmark 20th time on Sunday when Manchester United do battle with Manchester City at Old Trafford in a tasty top-of-the-table Premier League clash.
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola’s relentless yet riveting rivalry has long-been soaked in spitefall spats and tenacious tactical battles, but while their beef in England isn’t quite as volcanic as it was in Spain, their determination to get the better of one another is palpable.
The duo famously worked together in the 1990s at Barcelona where Mourinho was a coach, and Guardiola a player. However, years later their relationship soured after Guardiola pipped Mourinho to the Barca job following the departure of Frank Rijkaard.
The adversaries have since been at loggerheads in-and-out of the dugout, facing off 19 times in some of the biggest matches in European football; from El Clasicos and Manchester Derbies, to crunch Champions League duals. At the moment it’s Guardiola who's on top, registering nine wins to Mourinho’s four, while the honours have been shared six times.
Both bosses failed to set the Premier League alight in their debut campaigns, but this season it’s evident that each manager has moulded teams in their own contrasting image. Mourinho’s steely United are strong, powerful, pragmatic and versatile, while Guardiola has assembled an exhilarating and intelligent City side brimming with creativity, fast-paced passing and menacing movement.
Below we look at how the Manchester clubs are fairing this term, and what shape they’re in ahead of Sunday’s showcase spectacle.
Which Premier League managerial duel are you most looking forward to this weekend?— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) December 6, 2017
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Mesmerising Man City
Guardiola’s all-conquering Man City have dazzled, danced and delighted their way through to December, accumulating 20 wins from 23 matches in all competitions - losing only once - with the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup all up for grabs (100/1 for the quadruple).
City, who have developed a penchant for late league goals in recent weeks, have tallied more Premier League points - 43 from 15 games - at this stage of the season than any other team in history.
The Citizens are also currently enjoying a record-equaling single-season record of 13 successive league wins - shared with Chelsea and Arsenal - which they can smash on Sunday at Old Trafford.
A victory on enemy territory would catapult City - a surely insurmountable - 11 points clear at the summit of the table, and should Pep then go on to win the Premier League title he’ll become the 10th manager to achieve this feat in 26 editions of the league, and the third Man City boss in seven years.
Menacing Man Utd
Man City may have hogged most of the spotlight this season, but let’s not forget that Man Utd have also made significant waves this term, and they too remain in contention to win an unprecedented quadruple, although their price is way out at 1500/1.
The main difference between this campaign and the last is United’s more ruthless nature in front of goal, and while Mourinho’s men have suffered a couple of setbacks - losing to Chelsea and Huddersfield - they’ve beaten both Tottenham and Arsenal, with their 3-1 win over the latter last weekend one of the games of the season so far.
Let's not forget that the Red Devils famously ended Arsenal’s (‘The Invincibles’) 49-game unbeaten league run, and come Sunday they’d love nothing more than to rupture City’s chances of conjuring up a new single-season winning run of 14 straight league games.
Man Utd vs Man City: Something Has To Give
Man City head into Sunday’s clash with a sizeable eight-point lead at the summit of the table. A record-breaking 14th straight league win will shoot the Citizens 11 points clear after just 16 games, a gap they could well extend before the year is out considering the favourable nature of their upcoming fixtures - bookmakers Paddy Power have already paid out on City hoisting the title…!
However, United can bank on a stunning 41-game unbeaten home record, winning a dozen in a row, including all 11 games at Old Trafford this season.
But, you can guess who the last team to beat them on their own patch was...
...Guardiola’s Man City. The Citizens won 2-1 in September 2016, before playing out a goalless draw in the return fixture, meaning Guardiola has collected four points from two Premier League Manchester Derbies against Mourinho.
The Portuguese coach may have failed to get the better of his rival in England's top-flight, but he did in fact oversee a League Cup victory en route to winning the competition last season. He’ll also take a small amount of confidence from City’s surprise loss to Shakhtar on Wednesday - the club’s first defeat since April.
Something simply has to give...and we for one can’t wait to see what happens on Sunday afternoon.