Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has claimed he has not been surprised by Manchester United’s recent impressive run of form. The Red Devils head into the derby this weekend on the back of seven straight wins and having suffered just one defeat in 18 matches.
Erik ten Hag’s side made a slow start to this season but have managed to turn their fortunes around over recent months. They are now fourth in the Premier League table and are only four points behind City.
United haven’t lost since returning from the World Cup break and beat Charlton Athletic 3-0 last time out at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup, while their next opponents make the short trip from the Etihad following their 2-0 loss at Southampton in the same competition.
Speaking to reporters in his pre-match press conference, Guardiola has said: “The improvement in the team is clear, much in terms of results. I have the feeling every time I have been in Old Trafford or when Man United came here that it has always been a difficult game.
“Both teams want to try and win the game. There’s a lot of quality players in both sides, top class managers, so yeah it will be a good game.”
When asked why United have underperformed over recent years, City’s manager said: “What happened in previous seasons is a Man United problem. I don’t know exactly what happened. It is normal for United to be there [in the table], four points behind. [They’re] still there, at the top fighting. It’s the position that Man United have to be.
“Have they surprised me? No. They must be there alongside the other teams. That is why this competition is so difficult. But I’m not surprised at all.”
Guardiola admitted he already has his starting XI in mind for the match and said: “Yeah [I know who to start] mainly.” However, the City boss will be without defender John Stones as he isn’t fully fit yet.