Tuanzebe exclusive: Let's paint the town red

Friday 06 December 2019 16:10

Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe wants to ‘paint the town red’ when we travel to the Etihad Stadium for the Manchester derby on Saturday.

The 22-year-old centre-back was brought up in nearby Rochdale and knows just how much the fixture against our local rivals means for fans across the city.

“It’s one of the biggest games in the calendar,” Tuanzebe told MUTV. "We want to win the game both home and away. We want to take the fight to them and, obviously, elevate our place in the table.

“You kind of know which side [of the city] is red and which side is blue. Openshaw and that way is more blue and the likes of Salford and Trafford area is more red.

“It’s a big division in the city and we want [Manchester] to be painted red.”

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Tuanzebe has made seven first-team appearances for United this season and has recently returned from a hip injury which kept him out of action for much of October and November.

He has yet to play in a senior Manchester derby, but can draw upon the experience of captaining the Reds against City in various youth games, which always attracted plenty of attention.

“It was always an aggressive game, it was always a big game,” Axel recalls.

“I do remember winning more than them beating us, but it was always very competitive and there was always a heavy build-up to it.

“For example, in the Under-16s we would always have the youth team manager come in to show his support and to make us understand how important this game is.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side go into the derby in sixth place in the Premier League after defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Wednesday.

Tuanzebe believes the performance against Jose Mourinho’s side will galvanise us before we make the short trip to a ground where we have a relatively good record in recent years, having lost just one of our last four there.

“Tottenham are not the easiest of sides [to play]. They’re having their troubles at the moment but it’s always going to be a tough game against Spurs.

“Coming out and getting the three points just boosts us and gives us more positive energy towards the City game.

“We’re going in with our heads held high and coming out, hopefully, with three points.”

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