Ahead of Sunday’s crunch Manchester derby, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have been speaking to the press. Mourinho talked up his side’s chances of lifting the Premier League title this season, while Guardiola says the game at Old Trafford isn’t as decisive as many make it out to be.
Mourinho, Speaking at his pre-match press conference, says his team can indeed win the league as the title race remains very much open.
“I think we can,” Mourinho said, according to the club’s official website. “But I think others can be champions, too.”
United have gone 40 matches without defeat at home, equalling the club’s record. But this weekend, they host their city rivals, City, who are still unbeaten in the league, after 14 games, including a joint-record of 13 consecutive wins, and lead next door neighbours by eight points.
On what the game against Guardiola’s side means, Mourinho says it’s just another ‘big game’ against one of the country’s best sides.
“it’s one more big match against one of the best teams in the country. We are a better team than last year [and] I think City is also better than last season.
Mourinho also added that while the derby holds a ‘special’ feeling for people, his side is focused on nothing but taking the three points on offer.
“I don’t need to know that a derby is something special for the people,” he added. “For us, in the end, it’s three points but honestly, I think for the people born in the city and feeling the colours, it’s a good positive rivalry and a special match.”
"I know that a derby is something special for the people," says the boss. "For us, it's about three points but I think that for the people it's a good, positive rivalry." #MUFC pic.twitter.com/qnOmnOYIbt
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 8, 2017
Mourinho’s opposite number, Guardiola, has also been talking about the all important game. It’s the fourth time both managers will face each other in the PL, and the Catalan is most certainly looking forward to the ‘important game’.
“I am a manager to play these kinds of games on the biggest stages, “Guardiola said. “That’s why we are here. “I will enjoy it, definitely. I am looking forward to arriving and playing. I love to be there, working out what we can do to beat them.”
#PEP: Going to Old Trafford is a pleasure. That’s why we are here. I will enjoy it, definitely. I am looking forward to arriving and playing. I love to be there, working out what we can do to beat them. After we will shake hands.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 8, 2017
However, while Guardiola wants to win on Sunday, he says there is still all to play for in the league whatever the result. “Winning, drawing or losing, we are not going to win or lose the Premier League,” he added.
“It’s an important game because you can win points but it’s the same for them. All we are thinking is how to play well and win the game.”
On the injury front, both managers confirmed the availability of key personnel, but the home side will have to wait to see if Marouane Fellaini will play a part.
United will also be without influential midfielder, Paul Pogba, whose three match ban, following his red card against Arsenal, starts with the game on Sunday.
Both Manchester clubs go into this game in top form, having qualified for the knockout phase of the champions league, winning their respective groups. However, while United were winners against CSKA Moscow, City lost their first game of the season away to Shakhtar Donetsk in the last game of the group phase.