Pick a sub-plot, any sub-plot as the Premier League hits the north west, whether it be Jose Mourinho v Pep Guardiola XVII, the world’s record signing against its most expensively assembled squad, or simply Manchester United v Manchester City.
With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Raheem Sterling, Paul Pogba, John Stones and Wayne Rooney hogging the limelight ahead of the Old Trafford clash, we’ve looked at a few dark horses who could make a mark:
If Armenia’s captain can shake of the thigh problem that saw him skip his country’s World Cup 2018 qualifying loss against Denmark, this could be the stage for Mkhitaryan to shine.
Juan Mata has doggedly hung on to his right-forward starting berth, but with United likely to be stretched in midfield by their visitors’ high-tempo tactics, relief running high up the flanks will be vital.
Last year’s Bundesliga players’ player of the season is blessed with pace the Spaniard isn’t, and with Ibrahimovic not expected to cover much ground up top, Mkhitaryan could provide Mourinho with balance in what’s likely to be a fascinatingly tactical affair.
He’s 12/5 to bag his first Premier League goal.
Kelechi Iheanacho seems set to get the nod at number nine after Sergio Aguero’s three-match suspension was upheld, leaving this four-cap Germany youngster – who is fit to make his first City appearance – as the likely attacking Plan B from the substitute’s bench.
Eight goals and six assists in 33 Bundesliga appearances for Schalke last season – just 23 of them start – lead to Sane’s £37m Etihad move early in August, but the 20-year-old picked up a hamstring injury days later that kept him on the sidelines until now.
Fellow City summer captures Gabriel Jesus and Marlos Moreno were left at Palmeiras and loaned out to Deportivo La Coruna respectively, the former despite costing £27m, so Sane is clearly part of Guardiola’s immediate plans.
He’s 23/10 to score on debut
The Spaniard appears to be Mourinho’s utility man at present, having made way for Pogba after playing all 90 minutes of his side’s opening-weekend triumph at Bournemouth, then replacing wide-forward Anthony Martial for the last eight minutes of United’s win over Southampton five days later.
A gifted footballer, Herrera’s problem seems to be that he doesn’t fit fashionable Premier League moulds, not being quite penetrative enough to play regularly at number 10, and lacking the physicality needed in midfield, particularly Mourinho’s.
He might get on though, with the 27-year-old’s metronomic passing, adequate pace and eye for a goal likely to be useful late in the game.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.