Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points ahead of Matchweek 16.
Manchester United are at their best when they don't take the initiative, so this raises the prospect of a smash-and-grab derby-day win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made no secret of his desire to use pace as his main attacking weapon this season.
Building a team designed to spring into life from transitions and counter-attacks, his side has endured a bumpy start to 2019/20.
Yet their tactical identity is now much clearer than some of their top-six rivals.
Nine of United's 23 Premier League goals have stemmed from transitions, with two more arriving courtesy of through-balls for runners.
Breaking with penetration and speed is unquestionably their forte and United will attempt to hurt Manchester City in this manner.
|Right-wing crosses||3||Wide free-kicks||1|
His comments had plenty of foundation.
Solskjaer's men are unbeaten in the only five top-flight matches where they have had less than 50 per cent possession, as the table below shows.
|Opponent||Man Utd possession||Score||Expected goals (xG)|
It could be argued that the above matches also represent United's best five displays of the campaign.
The next step in their development is to improve performance levels in fixtures where they have more possession.
Paul Pogba's return from injury, which is expected to come before the end of the year, will likely help them in this regard.
That said, in the weeks to come we may also see Solskjaer deliberately setting up United in a lower block, even against opponents beneath them in the table.
In a low defensive block, they work well together as a shield, laying a solid platform from which the quick forwards around them can break.
United should have more than the 24 per cent possession Wolverhampton Wanderers enjoyed in their 2-0 win at Man City this season but Solskjaer could look to follow Nuno Espirito Santo's tactical blueprint.
With excellent defensive organisation, discipline and compactness Wolves limited the champions to just two first-half shots on target.
Then late on Adama Traore twice surged clear to score on the counter-attack, securing a famous success.
Furthermore, Solskjaer expects Anthony Martial to be fit to return from injury against a City side without a clean sheet in their last five matches and looking fragile at the back.
Over the course of 90 minutes the champions' attacking quality may be too hot to handle in this Manchester derby but Solskjaer's men are tactically equipped to cause their neighbours problems.
Tomorrow: Grealish role change lifting Villa