Manchester City head to Old Trafford on Saturday lunch time needing a win to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal, who boast a five-point lead over last season’s champions.
However, Guardiola faces an in-form United side who are on an eight-game winning streak and climbing up the table. A win for Erik ten Haag’s side will move them within a point of City.
The City manager, who first sat down at Southampton for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup quarter-final, has a habit of springing tactical surprises in big games and suggested he could do so again on Saturday.
“I want to average more or less the same minutes in games against United, because I have a few ideas, thoughts, funny, against United.”
Guardiola has previously been accused of overthinking his tactics on the biggest stage.
In the 2021 Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, the City manager was widely criticized for playing without a holding midfielder and was later blamed in some quarters for the loss.
The year before, Guardiola switched to the back three against Lyon in the same competition at the quarter-final stage, in a one-legged game in which City were heavy favorites to win.
The tactical ploy ultimately failed and cost City another chance at the Champions League – the competition Guardiola says he must win to feel his time at the Etihad is “finished”.
Guardiola was asked about his trick before playing Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last April and gave a sarcastic response.
“I think a lot,” he said. “I like to think again and make stupid tricks. Tonight I will create inspiration and create amazing strategies. We play with 12 people.
Guardiola, considered one of the greatest coaches of all time, succeeded even when he deviated from his plans.
City United dominated their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford three years ago when Guardiola used Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva as strikers instead of Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus.
Moving Jesus to the wing in favor of deploying one of his attacking midfielders in a more advanced role has also paid dividends in the past. City beat Real Madrid in the Round of 16 of the 2020 Champions League.
Guardiola has shown he can shake things up. But often he hits the mark.
“We all remember the Champions League final against Chelsea where Pep Guardiola didn’t play a defensive midfielder for the first time in over 50 games.
“I’m not sure how comfortable the City players were in that game against Chelsea.
“Pep seems to try differently when he comes to the biggest stage and some see that they didn’t win the Champions League.
“When it comes to Manchester United, these games are unpredictable anyway. Manchester United actually have a pretty good record in this derby, but when City win, they win handsomely.
Far be it from us to tell Pep Guardiola how to manage. But it’s interesting that he might be inclined to reconsider these issues when control is strongest.
“It’s absolutely huge. When you go back to the start of the season, I don’t think Manchester United and Manchester City would have been in the same conversation in terms of competing so close to each other.”
“Manchester United are in very good form and they are hosting the game at Old Trafford and if they win they are only one point apart.
“Going back to the start of the season, not many would have said that if they beat City at home after the World Cup break they would be a point behind.”
“There has been a big decline over the years. Manchester City went there and blew them away and when Manchester United won it meant nothing in terms of competing for things.”
“That they are so close is a testament to Erik ten Haag and the work he has done at Man United.”