Manchester United and Man City go head to head in the derby this weekend in a game involving two sides who have enjoyed differing fortunes this year.
This season under Joe Mourinho, Man U have struggled to show much form and are a side looking to get back into the race for the top four rather than competing for a title.
City, on the other hand, are starting to click into gear and look the best side in the league at the moment. The derby will see a collection of stars take the field on Sunday and in Alexis Sanchez, Mourinho has a player whom he needs to perform.
Signed to a contract worth £350,000-a-week, since he’s arrived in Manchester, Alexis Sanchez has struggled to emulate the form he showcased during his time at Arsenal. With The Gunners, Sanchez became one of the better players in the world and crucial to Arsenal’s success.
Sanchez was initially nailed on to join Manchester City; the papers were all but signed; it was a case of when and not if. But Txiki Begiristain failed to get a deal over the line and Ed Woodward sniffed out an opportunity to hijack United’s local-rivals – one which he took with both hands.
It was a stunning January u-turn which culminated when United introduced Sanchez to a gargantuan online fan-base, seated in-front of a piano, tapping the keys to glory glory Man United on the hallowed turf of Old Trafford. In a publicity stunt which allowed United to exact a sweet slice of revenge for the Carlos Tevez saga in 2009, Sanchez’s arrival threatened to derail City’s seemingly straightforward journey to the Premier League title.
But there was yet another twist in the tale. Just as the saga had unfolded in shockingly unpredictable fashion, Sanchez’s United career, ironically, has followed a similar pattern.
Since arriving at Old Trafford, he’s flopped in a manner which nobody could have predicted. Expensive, ineffective and seldom selected in the starting eleven, surely the best is yet to come from Sanchez.
TT Grade: C
It took Riyad Mahrez some time to settle in at the Etihad but over the last few weeks the 27-year-old has seemingly begun to adjust to Pep’s style of play and looks like a superb fit in City’s devastating attack.
City had tried to sign Alexis Sanchez before he moved to their city rivals, but it seems like City have dodged a bullet. Although Sanchez has started to show some form up front as a striker, he’s struggled massively while Mahrez has found a home on the right-hand side of City’s attack.
The elegant attacker is superb at drifting inside and in combination with Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero, City have the best attacking trio in the league.
Over the next few months we should start to see Mahrez become even better and despite signing for £60 million, he could be priceless in City’s pursuit of the league title and Champions League crown.
TT Grade: B
It’s not quite certain if Mahrez will start this weekend considering the wealth of attacking talent at City.
Sanchez, on the other hand, should continue his role as the leading striker for Mourinho and he must start to live up to the hype that surrounded him when he joined.
However, when pitting the two against each other, due to his style and impact at the club, Mahrez wins this one.