Could Pogba's ban be a blessing in disguise for Manchester United?

Could Pogba's ban be a blessing in disguise for Manchester United?

Mourinho knows he must try for the win and while he is aware that he is facing the most risky attacking team his players will have to deal with all season, he has to take them on and hope that my reservations about Guardiola's defence prove accurate.

City already sit eight points clear at the summit and a win over their neighbours would leave United with a mammoth deficit to make up, even with 22 games still to play in the campaign.

The club is said to be interested in Tottenham Hotspur left-back Danny Rose who will command a huge sum. Most sides can't, or are so overwhelmed by the challenge of coping with City's movement they are too befuddled to take advantage when they do generate openings - or, rather, openings to generate openings - which is why City have the second-best defensive record in the league but they have conceded in each of their last three league games. Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick have all had fitness issues. We always played with wingers.

The City boss and Kevin De Bruyne refused to add to the controversy, saying they wished Pogba was available for the upcoming derby.

But the sense is that this isn't really about City stopping United from scoring.

"I'm looking forward to this derby because it will be interesting because it is a different Man City now and a different Man United". Pace isn't Otamendi's strongest attribute, while the Argentina center back is prone to making rash tackles high up the field, too.

Similarly, City's other likely center back, captain Vincent Kompany, can struggle on the turn against quick strikers. He was lucky to escape a red card for bringing down Jamie Vardy following a simple through-ball down the middle early in City's recent win at Leicester.

Most of all, though, United might just need a little luck. If City come out on top, we may be seeing the emergence of an unstoppable force beyond just the 2017-18 season.

Raheem Sterling has scored late winners against Bournemouth and Huddersfield via a deflected shot and a fortunate ricochet.

Whether met by blessed relief or reluctant acceptance, Manchester City's long winning run has at last been ended with a 2-1 defeat in the freezing cold of Kharkiv, Ukraine to a sprightly, well-balanced and highly motivated Shakhtar Donetsk side.

United might just have the resilience and mental fortitude to go the whole 90 minutes against City.