Manchester United-Manchester City Preview
Pep Guardiola respects Manchester United, but the Manchester City boss insists he is not "scared" of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team.
City welcome United to the Etihad with a 14 point lead at the top of the Premier League, with the title seemingly heading their way after a remarkable winning run of 21 games across all competitions.
The situation is vastly different to the last time the neighbours met in the league, with a cagey 0-0 draw having being played out in December.
Both sides seemed content with avoiding defeat at Old Trafford, with United having won both derbies last season, though Guardiola defended his approach.
"They know from all the time when I was in Barcelona, now here and Bayern Munich when we played against United, of course I have incredible respect," he said.
"Sometimes a decision made in November, December, January, it depends on the circumstances in the right moment - the fitness of the players COVID, injuries, many, many reasons, the momentum that we have.
"Of course, I respect United but 'scared' is not the right word to explain how I approach one opponent. We were going there to win the game.
"The approach of the team is well-known for everyone. The game was not good, all the analysis was "boring" and "0-0". It was not good. But we have to admit that in that period we were not at our best."
City's rampant attackers will be going up against Dean Henderson, not David de Gea, with Solskjaer confirming the goalkeeper will miss the game after he travelled to Spain for the birth of his son.
"I will give David the time he needs before he comes back," said Solskjaer. "He wanted to go and be there, so there was not even a decision to make. Dean is ready, so we can give him the time he needs. I don't know when he is back, but it won't be long."
Manchester City - Phil Foden
Gabriel Jesus scored twice in the 4-1 win over Wolves on Tuesday, though that does not necessarily mean the striker will start on Sunday, with Guardiola often preferring to go with a false nine. Foden started in that role against Liverpool and turned in a supreme second-half display, and the youngster may well be given the nod again to do the damage against City's biggest rivals.
Manchester United - Anthony Martial
Martial has suffered a loss of form as of late, though he has an impressive record against City. He has scored away in the Premier League against City in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. Only Wayne Rooney (four) and Eric Cantona (three) have scored in more away Manchester derbies for the Red Devils in the Premier League.
•City's Sergio Aguero has scored nine goals in 16 Manchester derbies in all competitions. However, eight of those nine goals came in his first eight meetings with the Red Devils, with the Argentine netting just one in his previous eight against them.
•United are unbeaten in 21 away Premier League matches (W13 D8) - in top-flight history, only Arsenal have had a longer away unbeaten run, going 23 without defeat between August 2001 and September 2002 and 27 without defeat between April 2003 and September 2004.
•Solskjaer could become the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions with City.
•City are unbeaten in 28 games in all competitions - if they avoid defeat here they will set a new club record for games without defeat. The Citizens have also won each of their last 21 matches, the third ever longest run in all competitions among teams in the big five European leagues.
•United are looking to win three consecutive away games in all competitions against Manchester City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.
Updated March 5, 2021