The 170th Manchester derby is nearly upon us and the city is splitting in two once again.
Will Manchester be blue or red come 4pm on Sunday afternoon? Here are five things to look out for…
A game for patience?
In last season’s Old Trafford meeting, City made a flying start and could have found themselves at least 2-0 up in the opening ten minutes.
It was gegenpressing before gegenpressing entered English football’s vernacular but the away side eventually ran out of steam and soon found themselves chasing an unassailable lead.
Will the patient, methodical approach be favoured on this occasion or will City try to floor their local rivals early doors? A draw would not be a bad result for either team but Pellegrini only ever plays to win.
It’s an intriguing balance - in many ways, it could come down to just how adventurous City choose to be in the early knockings.
As Manuel Pellegrini said in his pre-match press conference, City are able to play, and win, in a variety of ways.
It’s not as simple as saying 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 but it’s more to do with the individual and collective briefings the players are given going into a game of any magnitude.
On Wednesday night, it was the substitution which was taken by many as a defensive move that actually opened up Sevilla and gave City the winning goal.
Bringing on Fernando and releasing Yaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne further up the field gave City solidity defensively and allowed the offensive midfield weapons to focus less on tracking back and more on trying to hurt the opposition.
Will Manuel favour this tactical blueprint on Sunday?
He told journalists: "We can play in different ways and we can win. Kevin is not a striker but he could play as a striker if we need him to."
De Bruyne’s first derby…
Kevin De Bruyne has 23 assists in 41 league appearances since the start of last season; three more than any other player in the top five European Leagues.
The Belgian has had no trouble replicating his sublime Wolfsburg form in the opening weeks of his City career but this is his first Manchester derby and, without Aguero and Silva, he is likely to step onto centre stage.
He’s only faced United once in his career, a 0-0 draw with Chelsea, but he’s ready to go to Old Trafford and win this time.
He told mcfc.co.uk: “I think we just have to go there and play our own game and not change a thing – we are an attacking team so I don’t think we should change our way of playing for anyone."
Sing it, brother!
Stop Rooney, stop United?
Wayne Rooney tends to save his best form for City.
Even in the comprehensive 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium in 2013, Rooney had a good shout for the MOTM honours, scoring a stunning free-kick and making himself at the heart of everything good about United on the day.
The England captain has scored 11 goals in Manchester derbies (all competitions); more than any other player in this fixture and he netted his first away goal for 11 months last time out.
With Anthony Martial starting out wide in recent weeks, it will be up to two of Eliaquim Mangala, Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis to ensure that Rooney has a quiet derby this time around.
Yes, our 4-2 defeat to United last time was a disappointment but, remember, we have won six of our last eight Manchester derbies in league competitions (L2).
Prior to this run, we had won six of our previous 42 (forty two) derby games v United.
It’s still an unprecedentedly good run we’re on… now let’s improve it on Sunday!