The English Premier League has seen several encounters between Manchester United and Manchester City but Saturday’s Manchester derby has easily become the most eagerly anticipated game of the season so far.Daily Mirror and other English newspapers report that in spite of the big money signings on both sides, two young men who cost a relative pittance between them could decide who comes out on top.
Those two players are Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho and United starlet Marcus Rashford. And of the two attackers the Nigerian is getting heightened attention because he could get a starring role in the absence of the suspended Sergio Aguero.
Iheanacho who scored a thunderbolt of a goal for Nigeria last Saturday against Tanzania has grown in confidence.
Ahead of the match he told reporters earlier in the week, “If I get picked I’m going to do my job. Games like this mean a lot and it doesn’t come bigger than a derby.”
For some young players, the pressure of playing a lead role in such a big game might prove a little too much to handle. But we’ve already seen enough from both Rashford and Iheanacho to suggest they have the temperament to succeed at the highest level.
Both players burst on to the scene last season, Rashford shooting from the anonymity of United’s youth set-up all the way to Euro 2016 duty with England.
At a little over six foot, Iheanacho isn’t the biggest, but he is far from someone to be underestimated, as Southampton found out last season. The 19-year-old’s brace at St Mary’s in May, albeit in a 4-2 defeat, showed what he’s all about.
Rashford’s remarkable scoring antics last season saw him net United’s winner in the derby at the Etihad, but Jose Mourinho is likely to resist any clamour to start him this weekend. Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains No 1 in the Portuguese’s eyes though Rashford is almost certain to come off the bench, especially if United are behind.
Despite his meteoric rise generating him more column inches than Iheanacho, Rashford’s numbers are actually inferior, albeit from less games played.
In his 20 appearances for United, Rashford has nine goals and two assists at a strike rate of one every 161 minutes.