MANCHESTER, England — Pep Guardiola has said it is no longer “scary” for Manchester City to visit Old Trafford ahead of Wednesday’s crucial Manchester derby against United.
City, who need a victory to move above leaders Liverpool and keep their title hopes in their own hands, have a strong record at United in recent years, having lost only once in the Premier League since 2011.
But they had only one win in 37 years before that as United, mainly under Sir Alex Ferguson, dominated the fixture.
“The reason why [City have a good recent record] is the fact this club, in the last decade, grew a lot and it is not scary to go there and play when before it was maybe more difficult,” Guardiola told a news conference.
“The distance between the quality of the players that Manchester City had in the last 10 season made this game a little bit more equal than before, when in the past the gap was a little bit bigger.”
City have won 10 successive Premier League games, while United have won just two of their last eight in all competitions and suffered a 4-0 thrashing at Everton on Sunday.
Guardiola said he expected Wednesday’s game to even tougher after that as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United chase a top-four spot.
“It is a derby, and all the times we play against United they are special games and the players do their best for themselves, the fans and the club,” he added.
“I saw the game and I can imagine what will happen against us. It’s a different game — the Everton game is over.”
City will be without Kevin De Bruyne after he limped out of Saturday’s win over Spurs with a hamstring injury, and the Belgium midfielder faces a race to be fit for the FA Cup final.
De Bruyne’s season has been disrupted by injuries, and Guardiola said City would discuss the best way to cut down on those setbacks next season.
“Unfortunately it was one injury, then another one and another one,” he added. “He was safe from muscular problems and now he has had two or three.
“Normally, with the competition you have in England, you don’t have time to make a preparation.
“You play every three days. That is not the best way — the best way is to have a good preseason. Now he has to pay attention to the little details to see if he can play one or two more games this season and next season make a good preseason and take care of himself.”