Manchester United need to unleash their new Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney partnership vs Man City

Manchester and the greater football world will come to a standstill on Sunday afternoon.

Manchester United’s trip to face Man City will represent the 177th meeting between the fierce rivals as Jose Mourinho faces up against managerial foe Pep Guardiola.

But while the streets of Manchester will be static, United’s best opportunity to assert their dominance will be by utilising their frightening amount of mobility up front.

Indeed, this weekend represents the acid test for the current crop of stars to channel their inner Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, and roll back the clocks.

It is no surprise United’s recent upturn in results has stemmed from a new forward line which has been constructed to cater for the raw and explosive abilities of Marcus Rashford, and in particular, Anthony Martial.

This new mobile forward line will again need to up their output if they are to inspire Mourinho’s men to a famous derby away day, with their movement the key to unlocking City’s stubborn defence.

Jose Mourinho Manchester derby press conference round-up

Speaking earlier in the week on an impressive punditry debut, former United midfielder Darren Fletcher echoed such a belief. “I would like to see pace on the counter-attack,” the Scot stated. “I would like to see Marcus Rashford come in. I think there is more fluidity and a lot more movement with that front three.”

“They could end up anywhere with that front three, a bit like the United of old with Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney. They don’t necessarily have to stay in those positions but that would frighten Man City on the counter-attack. Man City having possession of the ball, they would be scared of that.”

After what the mobile attacking line did again on Wednesday night versus Juventus, the case to start them will be even stronger.

Romelu Lukaku has been touted for a possible return to action at the Etihad this weekend, but even if the Belgian is fit there is a strong case to keep him on the bench.

With the Belgian forward as a central figure, United have been guilty of resorting to type and pumping long balls towards the box. Similar to the role Marouane Fellaini played in Turin earlier this week, Lukaku’s physicality could be a useful wildcard from the bench, but a detrimental approach from the off.

Not only would such an attacking line aid the chances of goals, but it could also loosely help them to keep goals out at the other end by playing to their own strengths. United have conceded 18 goals in their 11 Premier League games this season. It took them 25 games until the 31 January to concede as many in the competition last season.

Although City stormed to the title last season, Mourinho needs to play to his team’s strengths rather than selecting a team with the sole purpose of nullifying their opponents own strengths.

A strike force of Rashford, Alexis Sanchez and Martial still has a long way to go before it can fairly claim a place in the United history books, but if they can orchestrate a performance worthy of the double winners a decade ago this Sunday, then they might be well on track to greatness.

Help us build a Derby Day map of Manchester:

Where will you be supporting United or City from? You can help us compile a Derby Day map of Manchester.

Simply enter the first part of your postcode, then click on the red or blue button. Your entry will be added to the results – and you’ll get to see an interactive map which shows the results so far for each Greater Manchester area.

The survey will appear immediately below here, please wait a few seconds if it hasn’t loaded yet

When you enter in your own club affiliation, you will see a map showing how the votes have been going so far but the final results could change as more fans take part.

We will publish the verdict after Sunday’s big game.