Big Match Focus: Manchester City vs Manchester United

Manchester City can clinch the Premier League title in unforgettable style with victory over neighbours and bitter rivals Manchester United.

United has lost eight of its last 13 games against City but is unbeaten in the past two at the Etihad Stadium.   -  Getty Images

Pep Guardiola's dominant Manchester City side is on the verge of a prolonged Premier League victory lap and will secure the title if it overcomes Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The scheduling of this fixture always marked it out as a potentially decisive moment in the season, but few could have envisaged it being so in this manner.

Winning the league with six matches to spare would be the earliest Premier League title victory ever and having Jose Mourinho's team in the opposition dressing room makes this a dream scenario for City supporters.

Read: Manchester City on brink of Premier League glory

However, with the game stationed between the two legs of their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool, City manager Guardiola has said key performers may be rested as selection for those matches takes priority – will that give a United side playing for pride an opportunity too good to pass up?

AGUERO THE DERBY DAY SPECIALIST

Sergio Aguero is closing in on a return to fitness from a knee injury that means Wednesday's trip to Anfield came too soon for City's top scorer.

The Argentinian's absence from that encounter makes him a more likely starter in the derby, provided he can prove his fitness, and it is a fixture Aguero relishes.

He has six goals in his past six Premier League appearances against the Red Devils, albeit with none in the past two, and seven in nine overall.

United will hope its in-form striker, Romelu Lukaku, holds sway. The Belgium international has scored in each of his past three games in all competitions. December's 2-1 defeat to City at Old Trafford proved a miserable outing for Lukaku but he has four career goals against the team from across town.

FORM GUIDE

Even if Guardiola fields a weakened side, they will be bolstered by a phenomenal home record. City is unbeaten in 27 Premier League games at the Etihad, winning its last 14 in a row.

Despite a sapping Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla and some increasingly fraught public addresses, Mourinho has his men in good shape too. United has won each of their past four Premier League games. They last claimed more consecutive top-flight victories (six) in January 2017.

Also read: Guardiola rejects talk of Mourinho rivalry ahead of Manchester derby

However, games against the "big six" have proved a familiar stumbling block. United has only won one of its past 10 such encounters away from home (D3 L6), failing to score in eight.

PLAYER HEAD-TO-HEAD (Ederson vs David de Gea)

David de Gea has established himself as the finest goalkeeper in the world in the eyes of many observers during his time at Old Trafford but there is another man in Manchester who could soon be considered a pretender to that throne.

Ederson has caught the eye for City this season – as much for his work with the ball at his feet as with his hands – and his influence on Guardiola's team becoming champions-elect has been significant.

The Brazilian has conceded 21 Premier League goals, two fewer than De Gea this season, and kept out both penalties he has faced from Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

City and United's contrasting playing styles have left De Gea as by far the busier goalkeeper, with the Spain star making 99 saves to his opponent's 51. His save percentage (80.99) is also up on Ederson's (70).

HISTORY SAYS

City has done the double over United three times in the Premier League. Victory at the weekend would move them level with Liverpool on four – no team has completed the feat more often.

United has lost eight of its last 13 games against City but is unbeaten in the past two at the Etihad Stadium. Marcus Rashford scored the only goal in March 2016 before the sides played out a goalless draw last term.

It will be the 21st managerial meeting between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola – the most either man has faced another coach. Guardiola leads the way with nine wins from the previous 20 meetings, set against Mourinho's four victories and seven draws.