Manchester City already have one hand on the league trophy and could all but wrap up the title race when they meet rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
City have 21 wins in a row heading into one of world football’s most bitter fixtures. In all, Manchester City are now unbeaten in 28 games in all competitions (W25 D3), equalling their club record from 2017.
Pep Guardiola’s men have nine fingers on the trophy they relinquished to Liverpool last season.
The gap to their visitors is a staggering 14 points following yet another draw for the Red Devils. The red half of Manchester were held goalless by 13th place Crystal in midweek but will need to turn in a far more inspired performance if they are to keep their unbeaten run away from home in tact.
While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have only lost once in the Premier League since 1 November, it has been apparent that his small squad has grown tired leaving little room for creative spark at the top of the pitch.
Another concern will be how Dean Henderson stands up against the Citizens with David De Gea returning to Spain to be with his partner. Henderson saved United’s blushes against Palace with a few good saves but keeping Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus quiet will prove to be a different kind of test entirely.
“Of course it’s a concern,” said Solskjaer after three goalless draws in a row in the last week.
“When you have three clean sheets in a row, that will help you win games – but we haven’t produced the quality. We just have to find a spark again, the quality again and try to win the games.”
A win for City will be their first in four derbies in the league and will also break the club’s unbeaten run record.
City’s Joao Cancelo has a plan for the Red Devils.
“United is a team that likes to counterattack,” he says.
“They have very talented and fast players upfront and it is vital that we stop their attacks, which is their strength. By doing that, we know we are closer to winning this game. In fact, not only this game but against every team.
“I believe this is the route we must follow, that we can continue this approach and we can bring a lot of success to our home this season.”
The match kicks off at the Etihad at 6:30pm.