Manchester United will welcome heated rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford on Saturday for an anticipated Premier League showdown, which could deploy the Red Devils firmly into title contention with a victory.
After losing his first two matches of the campaign since assuming the managerial role at United in the summer, Erik ten Hag has turned the ship around and will move within one point of their forthcoming second placed opposition with a victory on home turf.
And having lost the away fixture against their city rivals by a chastening 6-3 scoreline, there is an added onus on exacting revenge and turning the tide on the seasonal proceedings.
With the Red Devils currently riding a resounding eight-match winning streak, and Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues having tasted a shock 2-0 defeat in the Carabao Cup quarter finals to Southampton – bottom of the Premier League – in midweek, there will be optimism aplenty that a monumental three points can be added to the growing tally.
In order to achieve this, the frontal efforts will need to be crisp and consistent, not giving the imperious City defence a moments rest; Marcus Rashford is in the form of his career having scored 15 goals and six assists from 25 appearances this term, while the creative ingenuity of Bruno Fernandes as the offensive orchestrator will also be paramount.
However, having broken his goal drought after finding the back of the net against Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup this week, £85m summer signing Antony will be desperate to continue his rise to prominence.
The 23-year-old Brazilian scored a thunderous looping strike against City in the defeat earlier this season, one of the shining lights from a woeful display, and will be hopeful that he can add to his five strikes for his current club on the biggest occasion once again.
As per Sofascore, the 15-cap ace has recorded a solid average league rating of 7.01 since arriving from Ajax Amsterdam last year, averaging 3.4 shots per match and creating 0.9 big chances each outing, also chipping in defensively with 1.4 tackles.
It is this level of output that will embolden his teammates and impress his manager, and he must channel every ounce of his tacking acumen to bypass Ederson’s goal and send the Theatre of Dreams into a cacophony of cheer.
And as per FBref, the “incredible talent” – as praised by his United manager prior to his arrival at the club – ranks within the top 10% of attacking midfielders and wingers across Europe’s major leagues for total shots, a further illustration of the peppering approach that we will bering against a resolute defence.
If United are to earn a victory against one of the game’s most deadly outfits, they will indeed need to be firing across all cylinders, and the £200k-per-week Antony could finally up his game to the next level with another stellar showing against the formidable opposition.