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Media Watch

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Gossip: Derby key, plus Ligue 1 midfielder linked

WING ATTACK: Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane

WING ATTACK: Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane

We're just two days out from what's shaping up to be a mega Manchester derby - so there aren't any Nobel prizes on offer for guessing the focus of Friday morning's City-centric media.

Blues midfielder Fernandinho has been speaking about the absence of opposite number Paul Pogba from the United team, plus the dangers of complacency, and there is analysis on exactly where the match might be won and lost from ex-players and pundits alike.

This being Media Watch, we've also launched a transfer speculation long throw into the mixer, featuring a Ligue 1 midfielder.

First to Fernandinho, and his comments as reported by the Press Association: "Of course, any team that loses such a good player, they are going to miss him (Pogba).

"But Manchester United have good players and it doesn't matter who is going to play in his position, they will do a good job. It will be a tough game for both teams."

The Brazilian added: "The people around the club, when we start to win a lot of games, they start to say a lot of things and it's not good. Some of us could relax and drop our levels.

"So if you have to choose a moment to lose then this would be the right one.

"Derbies are always special. We need to be 100 percent ready and focused to do our best and try to win the game."

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Over at the BBC ex-player Pat Nevin has cast an analytical eye over the match and feels that Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have a critical part to play.

Nevin, a former zippy winger himself, said: "For this game specifically, City will need to have sophistication from their wingers.

"Like most people, I think United are going to be very defensive so Sterling and Sane will need to go and try different things and adapt in different ways, by coming inside or switching flanks.

"I don't think United want that from their wide players. I think they want them to stick to a set structure, whatever their formation.

"Their front three might stay narrow, as they have done in some of their other games this season - in fact I would be surprised if they do anything different, because they do not want to leave any gaps through the middle.

"So the guys who are going to be adding to their attacking width are their wing-backs or full-backs - the guys who can get back as well."

To ESPN columnist Simon Curtis now, who feels this match could be pivotal for both sides.

He writes of City: "This is a side that is almost entirely unpredictable. It has so many arms that it is nearly impossible to shut down all the channels and be sure that you have nullified the threat. Manchester United this weekend will be the next side to take up the challenge and may have a little more in their arsenal than the majority of City's opponents thus far in a 2017-2018 season littered with glittering successes.

"Jose Mourinho's infamous pragmatic approach will be set a real task: how to contain and then beat a multi-pronged attacking threat that just refuses to lie down and be subdued.

"This is a side that is almost entirely unpredictable."

"It is difficult to turn away from the feeling that, for both these clubs, this match represents something of a pivotal point in the season, if not in the wider scale of things, too. For City, mounting evidence that they are the Premier League's best side and champions in waiting will be confirmed with a victory on the patch of their greatest rivals. Opening an 11-point lead at the beginning of December with an away win at the second-place side would underline that powerful dominance."

And finally to that spot of transfer speculation over Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri, who has been linked with City in le10Sport along with a clutch of other clubs.

That's all for today, we'll be back at the same time, same place on Saturday for more big-game build up!

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