Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola faces a tough Manchester derby on Sunday as his side take on Manchester United’s “incredible” talent.

The last time these two sides met at the Etihad, Man City were on the cusp of clinching the league title; a win against their local rivals would have sealed it and the Citizens could have basked in that glory in front of the visiting Red Army.

City were on course to do just that back in May when they ended the first half with a 2-0 lead, but in what is becoming typical of Jose Mourinho’s United side, the Red Devils rode their luck, fought back and won the game 2-3.

Guardiola clearly has that game at the epicentre of his mind and accepts the clash won’t be another cakewalk for his history-making side.

“Against the top teams like United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool – you cannot imagine for 90 minutes we are going to play amazingly and not give them a chance,” Guardiola told the Irish Examiner.

“When they have the ball and the people in front – wow – they can create something.”

Guardiola is particularly wary of United’s prowess from set-pieces, which the Red Devils demonstrated again on Wednesday in Turin.

“They have an incredible amount of talent up front and in the middle as well. That is why we have to defend deep and strong, defend the crosses and avoid set-pieces as they are huge and far better than us.

“We have to control more for as many minutes as possible and be clinical. That’s the game we’ll try to do.

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“What we have to do is try to play good. If we don’t we have no chance to win.”

United have won their last three games across all competitions and seem to be bouncing back from a torrid start to their season. Repeating the success from the last derby is going to be difficult for United, as City are undefeated in the Premier League this term and are regularly dismantling teams.

Mourinho, who has endured an enormous amount of pressure over the beginning of this season, has reciprocated Guardiola’s praise and acknowledges that Sunday’s game is a make or break fixture for his side’s title prospects.

“If we draw the gap is still nine points, if we lose it’s 12, so I don’t think that is the way to look at the match,” Mourinho told the Mirror.

“We have to just think about the match, is difficult enough as an isolated event, if you want to put that match into the context of where we are and where we can be.

“I want to play it as an isolated match, a difficult match against a difficult team, but they will also think it’s a difficult match for them.”

The Manchester derby will kick off on Sunday at 4.30pm.

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