On Saturday, Manchester United and Manchester City will square off in what may be one of their recent Premier League games with the most evenly matched teams.
Since Alex Ferguson’s resignation as manager in 2013, United have won eight straight games and may have already matched their longest winning streak across all competitions.
Four points ahead of United in second-place, City suffered a defeat to Southampton on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup.
The team’s improvement is evident, according to City manager Pep Guardiola.
Burnley striker Wout Weghorst is close to joining United on loan, but he won’t be able to play since he would have required to be registered by Friday at noon GMT.
Due to a leg injury, Anthony Martial is questionable, thus Marcus Rashford, who has seven goals in his last six games, could start as a center forward.
Since being defeated 6-3 by City in October, Erik ten Hag’s United have only lost once in 18 games.
“We have to prove that [how far they’ve come] on the pitch. There is only one truth and it is always on the pitch,” said the manager.
“It is not coming overnight, there has been a process in the last months where we develop, progress. We have to be brave, act with belief & play our game.
“We took the lesson [from the 6-3 loss] and from that point on we make huge progress. We have to continue that process.”
John Stones, a defender for England, won’t be playing for City because of a physical concern. Stones also missed their unexpected midweek cup loss to the Premier League’s lowest team.
After losing at St Mary’s, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan claimed they lacked hunger.
“What happened didn’t surprise me,” said Guardiola. “We tried to avoid it and hopefully it is not going to happen again, but it happened because we won four Premier Leagues in five years.
“After back-to-back two times, this can happen. We were not ready to go there. I was concerned it could happen and unfortunately it did. I don’t know if it will happen again, but I am not concerned.”
Erling Haaland, a striker for City, has 16 Premier League appearances and 21 goals. To tie the Golden Boot total from the previous three seasons, he only needs two more goals.
Diogo Dalot, a fullback for United, will miss the remainder of the season due to a hamstring injury, and midfielder will miss the entire campaign due to a knee injury.