Manchester derby not biggest game of season for City and Guardiola

The Manchester derby between City and United is not the biggest game of the season, according to Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola   -  Getty Images

Pep Guardiola feels that Manchester United is still in the title race, but does not believe that the Manchester derby is the biggest game of the season.

Manchester City hosts United on Sunday, with Guardiola's side top of the Premier League table after making an unbeaten start to its title defence.

United finished second behind City last term - albeit lagging 19 points adrift of the record-breaking champion - but it is seventh going into the weekend's clash.

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The title race has been billed as a three-team affair, with Chelsea and Liverpool, both three points behind City, also yet to taste defeat in the league.

Jose Mourinho has said, meanwhile, that United should not be considered contenders to win the league until it can climb back into the Champions League qualification places.

But, Guardiola claimed that United, which has secured comeback wins in its last two matches against Bournemouth and Juventus, cannot be discounted from the fight for top spot.

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"No, no, no. Of course, games against contenders are special because if you win, they don't win, but it's November so maybe the game at Old Trafford [in March] will be more important," Guardiola said, when asked if Sunday's meeting was the biggest game of the season for City.

"Of course, we are on a good run, United as well, it will be like all the games so tight, no team controls the game for 90 minutes and we have to defend well and attack like we have in the last games."

"All the derbies are special, I think in Spain there's more noise [in the media] than here, before the game especially, but it's always special for everybody."

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"In our history of Manchester City it's hard to beat United and they beat us more times, but it's a good rivalry and a good chance for three points. We will try especially to have a good game."

"They are not out of the race, not in November it's impossible, no way. They can recover well like 2-0 v Newcastle, big club, big mentality. Since we arrive we try to convince to never give up and try again and again it's why in the last month we didn't lose two or three in a row, we are consistent."

"But, United have it themselves, with their history behind them, it's always there. November, five or six strong teams, one issue in March and April but now everything is open, football changes in one week or two weeks."

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Despite City romping to the title last season, its campaign was checked by a home loss to United in April, Guardiola's men surrendering a 2-0 lead to collapse following a Paul Pogba double in a game in which victory would have secured the league on the day.

"We lost [in April], the last two derbies here we were not able to win here, but we won at Old Trafford," former Bayern Munich head coach Guardiola added.

"I lived in Barcelona for many years and know special derbies against Real Madrid, and in Germany against Borussia Dortmund like this weekend - it's special, I know that, but we have to be focused."

"I am not living outside so I know it's important. We played quite well [in April] but lost, but we were champions. Three points, three points, three points, so we're champions, the target, we did it."

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