Manchester United will be hoping to deliver a first loss of the Premier League season to Manchester City.

By 90Min
December 08, 2017

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has stressed that he and his players will be treating this weekend's Manchester derby against local rivals City the same as any other game against a direct competitor, but has acknowledged the 'special' occasion for fans on both sides.

Given the way both teams have started the season and look to be engaged in a two-horse Premier League title race, the game has taken on even more meaning in the hyped build-up.

As far as Mourinho is concerned, United players cannot allow themselves to get wrapped up in the occasion and must focus on what they need to do to win a crucial fixture.

"For me, it's one more big match against one of the best teams in the country. We are a better team than last year - I think City is also better than last season," the United boss explained as he faced the media on Friday afternoon.

"I don't need to know that a derby is something special for the people," he added.

"For us, in the end, it's three points but honestly, I think for the people born in the city and feeling the colours, it's a good positive rivalry and a special match."

United won 2-0 when the two clubs met in a friendly during the summer - the first Manchester derby ever to be held abroad - thanks to goal from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford. Both players broke goal droughts to get their names on the score-sheet when United faced CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night and will be keen to find the net again on Sunday.

City head into the game off the back of their first defeat of the season after losing against Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on Wednesday. The Sky Blues have also required late goals to keep up their winning run in the Premier League, but Mourinho is taking nothing for granted.

"Football is unpredictable," he commented. "As a manager, I can try to define a game plan and work a direction but you don't know what can happen. There are so many things that are out of my control that can totally transform the direction of the game."

United are boosted by the expected returns of Nemanja Matic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Phil Jones to the matchday squad, but Eric Bailly and Michael Carrick will continue to be absent.

Paul Pogba is suspended following his red card against Arsenal last weekend.

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