(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) In-form Manchester United have the confidence and ability to end Premier League leaders Manchester City's winning run, the hosts' goalkeeper David de Gea said ahead of Sunday's match at Old Trafford.
Old Trafford will be at the centre of the football universe on Sunday when Manchester United face Manchester City in a crucial top-of-the-table Premier League clash. Second-placed United trail leaders City by eight points and must win to have a realistic chance of overhauling their fierce local rivals.
Both United manager Jose Mourinho and City boss Pep Guardiola can call on a galaxy of expensive stars as they seek a potentially season-defining victory.
City could break the record for the most consecutive Premier League victories in a single season by winning their 14th game at United and their unbeaten start has opened an eight-point lead at the top of the table.
United are unbeaten in their last 40 home games across all competitions and have lost only twice in the league this season to stay in touch with their neighbours.
In an interview with Sky Sports, asked if United could stop City, De Gea turned the question around.
"Can City stop United? We play at home with the fans," the Spaniard said. "It's a derby, we have confidence, we feel really strong and we want to win. The team is in a good moment, we won two difficult away games so we have confidence and we know we play an important game. We really want to win." United defender Marcos Rojo believes both teams are well matched.
"The two teams are equal and both in good form, so it's going to come down to who wants it the most and that concentration throughout the game," Rojo told the club's website. (www.manutd.com). City have won five of the last 10 Manchester derbies in the league, with United winning three and the other two ending in goalless draws. Mourinho will believe he has the advantage between the posts after United's De Gea once again underlined his status as arguably the world's best goalkeeper with a stunning display in last weekend's win against Arsenal.
The Spaniard made save after save, including a breathtaking double stop to keep out Alexandre Lacazette's drive before regaining his balance to block Alexis Sanchez's follow-up with his boot.
After the calamities of Claudio Bravo and Willy Caballero last season, Guardiola has stabilised the goalkeeping situation at City with his 35 million ($47 million, 40 million euros) close-season signing of Ederson from Benfica.
The Brazilian might not be in De Gea's class yet but he is a solid shot-stopper and, just as importantly for Guardiola's ball-retention philosophy, he has enough composure on the ball to start City's attacks with his distribution.
Both Mourinho and Guardiola have overseen solid defences, with United conceding nine goals in their 15 league games and City allowing in 10 over the same period. Yet the rival bosses have gone about it in entirely different styles as Mourinho currently prefers three central defenders and two wing-backs, while Guardiola has gone for a back four of late.
It has not been all plain sailing and Mourinho might be worried after United trio Rojo, Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling endured a torrid time against Watford and Arsenal. First-choice centreback Eric Bailly remains sidelined and Mourinho says Rojo is tired after recently returning from a long-term injury, meaning Phil Jones could return this week following his own injury issues.
Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi are likely to figure at the heart of City's defence, but Guardiola must be alarmed by the way City have conceded so often from set pieces recently.
If Mourinho needs to go for broke in the closing stages, the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench offers the chance to unsettle City with a more direct approach. Guardiola said he had learned a lesson when his introduction of Gabriel Jesus as a half-time substitute to play alongside Sergio Aguero helped City break down West Ham's massed defence. Starting with both Jesus and Aguero at United would be a bold move but Guardiola has so many options he can keep Mourinho guessing until the last minute.
Aguero's 11 goals this season have made him City's all-time leading scorer, but Jesus would offer more mobility if Guardiola plays on the counter.
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