Most managers in Pep Guardiola’s shoes would be tempted to approach a game of this scale by keeping things tight and perhaps play for a draw. After all, a draw for City is a good result. It would maintain our eight-point lead, a sizeable advantage to have in December.
Guardiola, though, knows only one way to play. City will attack United. It’s the way this team is designed.
City have scored 62 goals in all competitions this season, a remarkable return that justifies Guardiola’s approach. He’s a manager committed to attacking football, who believes that success follows playing the game on the front foot.
It’s thrilling to watch and it’s also getting results.
It’s a sign of just how good City have been this season that we have managed to open up an eight-point lead on this United side.
Our cross-town rivals have taken an impressive 35 points from 14 games. They have dropped just two points at home all season, conceding just once in the process.
Anthony Martial looks a player reborn after a difficult second season in English football, and his pace will be a threat.
David de Gea is perhaps the finest goalkeeper in the game at present and his performance last week at Arsenal only underlined his credentials as a world-class stopper.
And Marcus Rashford is a fine young striker who can score goals from nothing.
City will have to produce a near-perfect performance to get the three points and establish an 11-point lead.
Vincent Kompany will be assessed at the CFA on Saturday before Guardiola makes a decision on his inclusion.
The centre-back missed Wednesday’s Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk and faces a race against time to be included. His physicality would be much-needed up against Lukaku, whose back-to-goal qualities are key in bringing United’s attacking players into the game. And few others understand the magnitude of the occasion as well as Kompany.
And David Silva is definitely back in contention after he missed Wednesday’s game in Ukraine. The Spaniard’s creativity will, as ever, be vital.
City may have lost to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, bringing an end a 28-game unbeaten run stretching back to April, but there is still a significant milestone within reach.
Should City beat United on Sunday, it will see Guardiola’s men equal Arsenal’s record of 14-straight wins in the Premier League.