City go into the 170th Manchester derby without star duo Sergio Aguero and David Silva – but boss Manuel Pellegrini is confident his team has the firepower to defeat United.
The Chilean manager delivered unchanged team news ahead of Sunday’s Old Trafford showdown with Samir Nasri, Fabian Delph, Gael Clichy also on the sidelines.
Given Kevin De Bruyne’s stunning impact since his summer arrival, and City’s track record of producing goals from around the pitch, Pellegrini feels his squad can cope with the current injury situation.
Recent results back the boss up, with two thumping Premier League wins – 6-1 and 5-1 over Newcastle and Bournemouth respectively – followed up by a late 2-1 Champions League victory over Sevilla in midweek.
Pellegrini said: “You never know, we hope to see a lot of goals, the most important thing is to try and win the game. There are different ways to try to win, I think we have one, I hope for fans it’s a good show and good game.
“I think that our team, if you remember last season, we had a lot of different ways to play. Last season we had the four strikers injured and we played with Milner and he scored two goals I think in two or three games and our team scored 15 goals without strikers. We have players with characteristics that can play different ways, and every one of them can score.”
Skipper Vincent Kompany will be pushing for a recall to the team, but he will have to get past in-form duo Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi, who have been paired in those last three victorious games.
Pellegrini added: “I need to choose a starting eleven every week that I think best for that game. The other players must wait, it’s exactly same for all the players in the squad.”
On the dual importance of a derby and top-of-the-table clash, Pellegrini admitted the combination made the game a six pointer.
Asked whether City will face an improved United this time the manager reflected: “I always say the same answer – it’s very difficult to compare one season with another. Maybe last season, we didn’t finish with silverware, we didn’t start very well but by January we were top.
“The Premier League is difficult, every one of the 38 game you must play as a final and after that you can see which team does is best. At the moment we are top but it doesn’t mean we’ll do better than last season. It’s important to try and avoid the same mistakes.
“It’s a match of six points because you are playing the team that is behind you, but it will not be a game to decide the title.
“I think for the city it is always a special game. It’s very important for both fans to try to win and to try to demonstrate who is the best in the city and of course we are involved in similar situations."