Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said Manchester United are always a “tough opponent” despite their struggles as he prepares his team for Sunday’s derby clash.
United have steadied the ship with unconvincing wins over Brentford, Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen in their past three games after losing six of their first 10 matches in all competitions this season.
Scoring goals has been a particular problem, with new striker Rasmus Hojlund yet to find the net in the Premier League and Marcus Rashford looking a shadow of the player who scored 30 times last season.
However, Guardiola is still wary of the individual quality United possess.
“United always have been — it doesn’t matter the manager — always they are a tough opponent,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“The qualities of the individuals they have, the stadium, the character they have, the momentum.
“They can score goals, we know the quality they have. Always that has been and always it will be.”
City returned to winning ways by beating Brighton 2-1 last weekend after losing consecutive Premier League games for the first time since 2018.
Guardiola’s men are looking to become the first side to win four consecutive English top-flight titles and remain well-placed, just two points behind surprise early leaders Tottenham.
The last time the two teams met, in June, City beat United to lift the FA Cup, completing the second leg of a treble.
Guardiola acknowledged there is far less on the line this weekend, but is keen to see how his side respond to the challenge posed by travelling to Old Trafford.
“It is a game not like an FA Cup final or last games of the season that defines winning or not the Premier League. Still we have only played nine fixtures and there are 87 points to play. We have to be focused,” he said.
“It’s too early. All the teams are there and the teams behind can be there.
“When you play just nine games many things will happen. We have been behind by a few points in February and March and then we were able to win.
“I want to see how is our mentality on Sunday in Old Trafford. We have won a lot. It’s not about if we win now what is going to happen (in the future). I want to see the right mentality to play for these points.”
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