At last the big day is finally here.

The 179th Manchester derby is just hours away and, not surprisingly, this evening’s Etihad encounter dominates Saturday morning’s media landscape.

There’s a warning to United from Raheem Sterling, predictions aplenty, and a look at the key roles of both Kevin De Bruyne and Rodrigo.

Away from the game itself there’s also an encouraging Champions League message for City from Brazilian legend Ronaldinho, so without further ado, let’s kick-off…

From the players

mirror.co.ukSterling aiming to break derby duck

Gareth Bicknell: City’s England international has never scored against United, whether for City or former club Liverpool .

READ: Mind games: Why the derby matters so much

WATCH: Guardiola | Jesus just has to be himself

It is a record that stretches back 16 games - with Sterling having been on the losing side for half of those matches.

But Sterling is confident he can end his barren run against the Red Devils thanks to a new mentality when it comes to goalscoring.

Asked whether his record against United bothers him, Sterling told Sky Sports : "I'd say no and yes. Firstly no, because I didn't take scoring seriously but yes because now I do.

"To see that stat that I haven't scored in 16 games against them, it's a wake-up call.

"I won't put pressure on myself and will play my game looking with an eye to score. I'll be taking a lot more shots than I usually do.”

Opinion

BBC.comShearer: De Bruyne and McTominay hold derby key

Alan Shearer: “Kevin de Bruyne has been brilliant for Manchester City this season, creating more chances than any other Premier League player and heading up the assists table too.

WATCH: The Derby: De Jong, Lescott & Richards reunite

“For any striker, De Bruyne is a dream to play in front of because of the range of his deliveries.

“From his whipped crosses into the box to balls in behind the defence where the weight of the pass is key, he can provide exactly what you need.

“De Bruyne can finish too - his goal against Newcastle last week was absolutely incredible - but I am not surprised anymore when he produces things like that, which is the sign of an excellent player; they can do it all the time.

“McTominay will be one of the first names on the United teamsheet at the Etihad Stadium, and he again showed why in Wednesday's win over Tottenham.

“The 22-year-old Scot was back after two league games out injured and brought great energy to an area where that had been lacking.

“He cannot compare in terms of making chances or goals but, for different reasons, he will be just as important for his team in Saturday's Manchester derby.”

telegraph.co.ukWhy Rodrigo is the perfect fit for City

JJ Bull: “The 23-year-old Spanish midfielder never stands still, operating as a constantly floating anchor point.

READ: Rosler: Beating United still tops the lot

WATCH: City v United: Top five goals

“One of the ways he escaped Burnley’s close attention in midweek was to drop into a back three in build-up, another was to tease the strikers into making a tackle before bursting past them - how do you stop a player one step ahead?

“United will almost certainly play on the counter-attack, meaning they will drop behind the ball and block the space when City have possession. Rodri’s passing will be tested in transition phases, the Spaniard told to look for, and thread, passes from deep through the lines to Kevin De Bruyne or a forward quickly to prevent United shutting the game down. 

“Rodrigo must also be highly aware of his defensive responsibilities. Marcus Rashford will fancy running at Fernandinho and as the midfield protector, Rodrigo will be expected to cover and support whenever United have the ball. 

“If Solskjaer’s team can catch him high up the pitch they will have a route to goal but the problem is forcing the mistake in a player entirely in tune with his surroundings, who reads the play as though authoring it.”

Predictions

Manchester Evening News City's predicted starting eleven

Daniel Murphy: “Ederson will start in goal but the defence in front of him may look different as Guardiola reverts to what he may see as his strongest back-line.

WATCH: The smallest things make the biggest difference...

“Fernandinho will likely retain his place but John Stones may come in for Nicolas Otamendi to reinstate his preferred centre-back pairing, with Kyle Walker also keeping his spot.

“He would have a right to feel aggrieved after his solid display on Tuesday but Angelino may also make way for Benjamin Mendy.

“There probably won't be as many changes in midfield with Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri retaining their places but Ilkay Gundogan, fresh after suspension, might come in for David Silva.

“The skipper has started the last two games, a lot to ask as he approaches the end of his City career, and Gundogan may be seen as a safer option to help deal with United's pace on the counter.

“The attack, however, could be unchanged as Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva, who linked so well together on Tuesday, are all set to keep their places.”

Predicted City XI vs Manchester United: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling.

BBC.comMark Lawrenson’s prediction

“I know United played very well in their win over Tottenham on Wednesday, and that they have had some good results against the bigger clubs this season.

READ: When Neville fed the Goat...

WATCH: City v United: Top five saves

“But from their wins over Chelsea and Spurs to their draw with Liverpool, those results have all come at Old Trafford, and they have still only won once away in the league - at Norwich.

"Manchester City are still a very good team - that has not changed just because they have had the odd bad result this season," said BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson.

“City were impressive as they beat Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday night and for Gabriel Jesus to score twice was more good news for them.”

Prediction: City 2-0 United

skysports.comCharlie Nicholas’s prediction

“Does United's victory over Spurs signify the turning of a corner under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

“We've said that so many times, but we've been proven wrong on every occasion.

“City have the fire, the burning desire back in their bellies, we saw that in the victory at Burnley, and it is for that reason why the United revival will be short-lived. It will be a blue day in Manchester.”

Prediction: City 3-1 United

betvictor.comMichael Owen’s prediction

“The 179th Manchester derby and City, who did the double over United last season, are taken to maintain their recent supremacy against their local rivals at the Etihad Stadium.

WATCH: Inside City: Laporte in the gym

“Both sides have scored in three of the last four games between the teams and I would be surprised if we didn’t see goals in Saturday’s late kick-off.

“City were comfortable winners at Turf Moor midweek, but once against they failed to keep a clean sheet while a Marcus Rashford inspired United gained a much-needed three points against Jose Mourinho’s Spurs on Wednesday.”

Prediction: City to win and both teams to score

News

Daily Mail City ready for Champions League challenge, says Ronaldinho

Former Barcelona and Brazil striker Ronaldinho has backed Pep Guardiola to end his Champions League barren run and win the trophy with Manchester City.

'It's a very difficult competition, but he is a very good coach with a great team at his disposal so they can break through at any moment,' Ronaldinho told Reuters in Budapest, where he was promoting teqball, a hybrid sport mixing football with table tennis.

“Ronaldinho, now 39, said the pass-heavy style of play at Man City may be different from the spectacular individual efforts that marked his own career, but the English club are still 'perennial contenders' and played beautiful football.

'I don't watch their games in their entirety, usually only highlights, but what I do see of Man City I do always like a lot,' he said.