Manchester City’s title on the line in crucial Derby game

Manchester City goes into their crucial derby game against cross-town rivals, Manchester United in desperate need of a win to keep their Premier League title defense afloat.

The Sky Blues have been in imperious forms in the Champions League, but their recent Premier League form has not been up to their usual standards.

The latest edition of the Manchester Derby comes one month to the day after City was humbled at Liverpool, and things have not been entirely going the way of Pep Guardiola’s men in the Premier League since.

The city has been in this position before and will not be panicking yet. A win at the Etihad would pile the pressure on Liverpool to keep winning and send a big message to Anfield. However, the most important thing for Pep Guardiola’s side is avoiding defeat.

Losing to United here, other than giving in to the red half of Manchester, could be a nail in the coffin of their title chances.

“I know in the beginning how strong they’ll be in terms of intensity and we’ll have to handle it,” City’s talismanic mastermind coach, Pep Guardiola, said.

Will that see the pressure finally told on Guardiola’s team? That’s what these Derby games can do – the level of intensity can build pressure to the breaking point. However, City has ice-cold emotionless blood running through its veins – we all know what City can do.

United ready for the challenge

Ole Gunnar’s Solskjaer’s charges at the Red Devils are in a much better vein of form than the last time these two sides met in a Derby clash.

Humbled 2-0 and 3-1 in last season’s two Manchester Derby matches, United are looking to impose their recent good form on a march back into a Top 4 and secure a direct Champions League qualifying spot.

Marcus Rashford is in career best goal scoring form and the United defense has looked solid over the last few weeks. However, the latest edition of the Derby fixture will provide an ethical dilemma for Manchester United fans.

The club and millions of followers around the world will want to desperately beat local rivals Manchester City but will be all too well aware that a United victory could almost effectively end bitter rivals Liverpool’s long wait for a league title.

It’s a point not lost on Solskjaer, but like all matches, he is looking to win, Derby or not:

“You go into every single game at Manchester United as a player or a manager, thinking you’re going to win. That’s just the nature of this club. The next one is always the important one.” he said.

United’s recent results have seen hopes of a top-four finish resurface, but it’s difficult to see Guardiola’s men being upset at the Etihad.