Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ibrahimovic gets backing to be key man as Silva says only a derby win will do

Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Pic: PA
Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Pic: PA
David Silva. Pic: PA

Manchester City have been warned that they will be facing a striker every bit as good as Neymar and Luis Suarez in Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the weekend.

The former Sweden international, who will be 35 next month, has made a good start to his Manchester United career with three goals in as many Premier League matches since arriving on a free transfer from Paris St Germain in the summer.

He will take part in his biggest game yet for the Reds at lunchtime on Saturday when Jose Mourinho's side host Pep Guardiola's City in the derby.

Both sides have a 100 per cent record so far this season and something has to give at Old Trafford, where City will be without their own star striker Sergio Aguero through suspension.

It is a chance for Ibrahimovic to take centre stage once more and one of his former team-mates has backed the big Swede to ultimately make the difference for United.

Former Italy World Cup-winning defender Gianluca Zambrotta, who played with Ibrahimovic at Juventus and AC Milan, said: "Wherever Zlatan plays he does very well. He is a winner everywhere he goes. He compares with the best players at the moment like Suarez and Neymar."

Zambrotta, who now coaches Indian club Delhi Dynamos, added: "I played with him twice and he's a good professional and has good motivation. I have always liked him."

Ibrahimovic has won league titles with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG and would become the first player ever to win the championship in five different countries should United regain the Premier League trophy this season.

Nothing less than victory will do for Manchester City in Saturday's feisty Premier League derby against Manchester United, playmaker David Silva has said.

Silva, who scored both goals in Spain's friendly win over Belgium last week and two more against Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifier on Monday, has featured in all of City's league games this season under manager Pep Guardiola.

Table-topper City sit marginally above United on goal difference after both sides won their first three league games.

"It's going to be a very beautiful game. The two teams arrive to this game having taken good results and after making wholesale changes in every sense," the 30-year-old said. "We've started the season very well and it should be a great game. But we won't be playing for a draw. We will go out to win the match."

City have won three times and drew one in their last five top flight meetings with United at Old Trafford.

"It's a ground where in the last few years things have gone okay for us. We know they are a very difficult rival - but we won't settle for a draw," Silva added.

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