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Lonesome Guardiola looking for derby love

No love lost: City manager Guardiola

It’s like a twisted love triangle: Zlatan loves José but hates Pep, Pep hates Zlatan AND José, José loves Zlatan and hates Pep.

Of course, it doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to work out that Guardiola is the only one getting no love; the lonesome odd man out.

Manchester United against Manchester City is packed full of fascinating subplots which those three dominate.

Ibrahimovic v Guardiola is perhaps the most entertaining, a case study of when two gargantuan football egos collide. To say their time together at Barcelona was fraught was an understatement. Pep’s continued indifference to the Swede’s talent will only add fire to the frontman’s belly. Expect a Gerard Butler “This is Sparta”-style roar towards the City dugout if the big man scores.

The trouble with this game is that the personal conflicts threaten to be more interesting than the football.

Mourinho, not exactly known for his free-flowing style, will certainly not want to lose, which usually means tactical deadlock.

For entertainment’s sake, let’s hope the early start catches some players half asleep.

11am kick offs unless stated


Manchester United v Manchester City


Sergio Agüero’s ban is a blow to City, not to mention all the Fantasy managers who had him as skipper. Kelechi Iheanacho is tipped to replace him, although Raheem Sterling could also play through the middle.

Marcus Rashford has stated his claim to be in the United first team but will Mourinho risk it? Unlikely. An early title showdown in which too much is at stake for either side to contemplate defeat. Prediction: 1-1

Arsenal v Southampton

Arsenal’s 4-0 defeat to Saints last season did a huge amount of damage but the away side do not look quite at the races yet.

Arsène Wenger has new signings Lucas Pérez and Shkodran Mustafi to call upon and all signs point to a convincing home win.

Prediction: 3-0

Bournemouth v West Bromwich Albion

Will Jack Wilshere get a start? He needs to grab this chance on the South Coast to kick-start his career. It feels like his arrival can really get Bournemouth back on track after failing to win their past eight Premier League games.

Prediction: 2-0

Burnley v Hull City

Both teams will present their new record signings — Ryan Mason for Hull and Jeff Hendrick for Burnley. Hull, of course, have been the surprise of the season so far, while Burnley are still high-fiving after beating Liverpool.

Hull have a terrible record against Burnley but this is their chance to correct that.

Prediction: 1-1

Middlesbrough v Crystal Palace

Boro have made an encouraging start to the season while Palace have failed to win 20 of their 22 games in 2016. Alan Pardew’s future looks uncertain as he continues his trend of making every team he manages worse.

Prediction: 2-1

Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs are slowly going through the gears and could hand a debut to Moussa Sissoko in midfield. Stoke, however, look to have pulled off a shrewd transfer deadline-day move by bringing in Wilfried Bony on loan from City.

Prediction: 1-2

West Ham United v Watford

Simone Zaza could be in line for his West Ham debut — fans will be hoping he doesn’t have to take an penalties after his Euro disaster.

Etienne Capoue has made a stunning start to the season for Watford but this looks a tough assignment.

Prediction: 1-0

Liverpool v Leicester City


There are signs champions Leicester are back in their groove, hitting teams on the break, moving the ball quickly from back to front. Jamie Vardy has scored six in his past seven Premier League games.

The home team unveil their new stand after an uncertain start to their season, with question marks remaining over their defence. Liverpool were one of the few teams to beat Leicester last season and this one is set up nicely for an end-to-end encounter.

Prediction: 2-1


Swansea City v Chelsea


Swansea have lost their past two games ... so they’ll be hoping David Luiz lines up in the centre of defence for Chelsea.

Sadly for the Welsh side, Eden Hazard looks like he’s remembered he’s a footballer and Diego Costa is back in the goals.

Prediction: 0-2


Sunderland v Everton


David Moyes takes on his old club as he attempts to piece together a competitive side from his transfer market dealings. The jury remains out on whether he can be a success.

Everton missed out on Sissoko but club morale as a whole appears to have been restored by new manager Ronald Koeman.

Prediction: 1-2

Lee Williams, in charge of Expected Toulouse, has made the early running and wins the $100 prize for top manager for August.

Williams scoresd 200 points, two clear of How I Met Your Mata, led by Graham Gibbons, in second.

E-mail jburton@royalgazette.com for details of how to collect your prize.