English Premiership

Preview: Man City v Man United

2016-03-20 16:26
Manuel Pellegrini (TEAMtalk)

Cape Town - Manchester City will be aiming to keep themselves in the hunt for a Champions League qualification berth when they welcome cross-town rivals Manchester United to the Etihad on Sunday.

It's fair to say that neither of the Manchester teams are currently in the best of form, although City will be the happier of the two sides after sealing their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League following a goalless draw with Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday evening.

On the domestic front, Manchester City have managed to steady the ship following three consecutive defeats, recording a 4-0 victory over Aston Villa and a 0-0 draw with Norwich City.

Louis van Gaal's side, meanwhile, have lost ground on the Champions League qualification places after slumping to a 1-0 defeat against West Brom on 6 March. They find themselves four points adrift of the Citizens heading into Sunday's crunch clash, adding even more importance to the result of the Manchester derby.

Looking ahead to Sunday's encounter at the Etihad, City boss Pellegrini said: "A derby is always dangerous. It does not matter which positions the teams are in.

"In football when you have a mathematical chance, you cannot think you cannot do it. That is not a winning mind. You must always think you must do it.

"The more points you lose it's more difficult, but you must have the mentality to win the next game, and after that you will see which team has the most points."

United manager Van Gaal is all too aware of the importance of Sunday's encounter, as a win could catapult his side back into the battle for Champions League qualification at the business end of the campaign.

"I hope City is the catalyst," the former Netherlands manager said. "We have to beat City and we have a chance to still qualify [for the Champions League]."

In team news, Pellegrini will once again be without the services of talismanic skipper Vincent Kompany after the Belgium international suffered a recurrence of a calf injury in midweek.

Fellow centre-back Nicolas Otamendi (dead leg) faces a late fitness test, but Fabian Delph, Kevin de Bruyne and Samir Nasri remain on the treatment table.

For Manchester United, Ander Herrera (groin) and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (knock) will undergo late tests.

Ashley Young could also feature after recently returning from a groin injury, but long-term injury victims Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw miss out once again.

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