Stern United derby test for City
Slick pace-setters face a real examination of their Premiership title credentials
CHAMPIONS Manchester City will brace themselves for a real test of their title credentials when they play bitter rivals Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.
Two points clear at the top and still unbeaten, City are riding a wave of confidence, having smashed in 23 goals in their past six matches.
Twelve of them have come in their last two games and even without the injured Kevin de Bruyne, they are firing on all cylinders.
But United will arrive at the Etihad Stadium a much changed side from even a month ago, having won four of their last six games to rectify a poor start to the season.
A win at City would cut the gap between the two Manchester teams to just six points and United manager Jose Mourinho said his side will go for it in search of victory, having won at Juventus in midweek.
“We played very, very well (away to Chelsea and to Juventus on Wednesday) and this is what we want; we want to play well, we want to go to every stadium, and it doesn’t matter the team, and we play.
“Then if they are better than us, they win; if they have more potential than us, they win; if we make mistakes and pay for the mistakes, we lose. But I want the feeling, it doesn’t matter where we go, we go to compete.”
City manager Pep Guardiola has no new injury concerns and with such firepower at his disposal, it will take a huge performance from United to stop them.
“We have one more game before the international break. We are going to try (to win),” Guardiola said.
Chelsea and Liverpool, both unbeaten and separated in second and third only by goal difference, are also in action on Sunday.
Chelsea face Everton at Stamford Bridge with a day less than most teams to recover after their Europa League outing last night.
Liverpool host bottom side Fulham, perhaps the ideal fixture for a team who, as manager Juergen Klopp said in midweek, are missing their mojo.
The Anfield side lost away to Red Star Belgrade in midweek but fullback Andy Robertson believes it is “one of those periods we need to get through”.
“Last season everyone was used to us scoring four or five goals. That can’t be possible every single game,” he said. “At times we’ve dug out results, in the Premier League more so this season.
“Maybe it’s not been as good to look at but we’ve been effective at it. Maybe we are missing a bit of a spark in terms of not winning four or fivenil in most games, but if (Klopp) thinks that then we need to try to get it back.
“We need to come together as a team and try to give what the gaffer wants, try to get the spark and try to win games more comfortably.”
Tottenham Hotspur could join Chelsea and Liverpool level on points in second, for 24 hours at least, if they can win at Crystal Palace tomorrow.
Arsenal host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, while at the other end of the table, Huddersfield Town will try to build on their first win of the season with another at home to West Ham United.
Also, Cardiff City welcome Brighton & Hove Albion, Leicester City meet Burnley, Newcastle United take on Bournemouth and Southampton play Watford.
From left: Lizelle Lee, Dane Van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp, Chloe Tryon and Suné Luus.