Manchester derby: City's Guardiola expects tough test against United

Manchester City expect to face the “best version” of a wounded Manchester United side reeling from its Champions League exit when the teams meet this weekend.

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola said he empathised with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is facing increased scrutiny.   -  Manchester City

Manchester City expect to face the “best version” of a wounded Manchester United side reeling from its Champions League exit when the teams meet this weekend in the Premier League derby, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.

United crashed out of Europe's elite club competition after a 3-2 defeat at RB Leipzig on Tuesday, the day before City cruised past Olympique Marseille 3-0 to cement their place atop Group C as they look forward to the last-16 draw on Monday.

Asked by reporters how City would prepare for Saturday's meeting with their inconsistent local rivals at Old Trafford, Guardiola said: “Thinking we're going to face the best version of them, especially talk a lot about what we have to do.

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“It's not a knockout game, it's three more points. Important of course, because of the quality of the opponent but there are a lot of fixtures to come and we try to win our games.”

City are seventh with 18 points from 10 games, a point and a place below United who are five points off the pace. Both teams have a game in hand over the top five.

Guardiola said he empathised with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is facing increased scrutiny as a result of their latest defeat and poor home form. United have lost three of their five Premier League games at Old Trafford this term.

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“It's important to know the value of Solskjaer, there's no doubt about this. I don't have to give him support because he's strong enough and knows how this job works... when we win we're a genius, when we lose we have to be sacked,” Guardiola added.

“It happens at United and all around the world, it's a reality.”

Guardiola also said City's Spain defender Eric Garcia could be out for up to three weeks with a knock, while Argentina striker Sergio Aguero will not start on Saturday as he manages a knee injury after playing and scoring against Marseille.

Mourinho to rotate Spurs players

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho said he will rotate his squad amid a busy festive schedule but certain “unique players” will feature more than others as his team look to stay top of the Premier League.

Spurs moved into the Europa League knockout stage as group winners with a 2-0 victory over Royal Antwerp on Thursday and are set to play seven times in the next 21 days, which include six Premier League games and a League Cup quarterfinal.

"It's impossible for a player to play all these matches with a short period of time. But at the same time there are unique players... in spite of the squad being very good, we have to try to give them more minutes because they can make a difference," he said.

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