Man City might not feel as confident as usual when they face Manchester United on Saturday.
The Premier League champions find themselves in the unfamiliar position of coming into a fixture under pressure – largely down to the flying Red Devils.
A 1-1 draw against Everton and a shock cup defeat to Southampton have rocked the Etihad.
And now they they travel across town to face their local rivals on Saturday, live on talkSPORT.
City are five points behind Arsenal and cannot afford any more slip-ups or risk falling further behind in the title charge.
Man United, meanwhile, are in the ascendancy having won every match since the World Cup concluded.
Another victory for Erik ten Hag’s men would put them a point behind City.
And there is every reason why Pep Guardiola might be feeling a bit worried…
A major concern of United’s last season was their shocking defence but Ten Hag has revamped their backline with the signing of Lisandro Martinez while players like Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire have dropped out of the team.
The result has been nine clean sheets in 11 Old Trafford appearances this season while the likes of Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot have seen their form improve.
Martinez, who was denounced by Graeme Souness after his £57million arrival from Ajax, has proved an astute signing – translating Ten Hag’s defensive tactics onto the pitch.
World Cup fever
United’s form post-World Cup has been nothing short of sensational with the team becoming a real force to be reckoned with.
Not only have they won every match in style but have looked formidable in all parts of the game, especially in defence where they have kept five clean sheets in six – conceding just once in that period.
Rashford’s the Man
When United have needed a goal, they have turned to one man in particular – Marcus Rashford.
The 25-year-old is in the form of his life and has scored 15 times in all competitions this season in 25 appearances.
To put that into perspective, that is as many as Anthony Martial (5), Cristiano Ronaldo (3), Bruno Fernandes (3), Casemiro (2) and Christian Eriksen (2) combined.
Ten Hag’s racing start
United have looked revitalised under Ten Hag, who became the manager to reach 20 wins at the club in the quickest time, completing the feat in 27 games.
Jose Mourinho is now second, having completed the feat in 31 games and Louis van Gaal third in 36 – but it only reiterates the confidence that has been building at Old Trafford week after week.
Rashford has clearly enjoyed Ten Hag’s management since the Dutchman’s arrival – finding himself scoring with almost every shot.
His confidence is rising exponentially and he is currently on a run of scoring in eight consecutive matches at Old Trafford – and what better opponent than City for him to make it nine.
With Man City’s defeat to Southampton in the Carabao Cup, Manchester United were confirmed as the only team left in all four competitions – and fans are starting to believe they might be able to win one or two.
Victory over City will see them go six points behind Arsenal while the Red Devils face Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup semi-finals with a potential final against Southampton or Newcastle.
They face Reading in the FA Cup fourth round, which appears kind too.
Their biggest test might come in the Europa League, though, as they face Barcelona in the knockout round play-offs.
talkSPORT BET OFFER OF THE DAY
Get up to £40 in free bets* – CLAIM HERE
18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet up to £40 (min. £20) on selected events at odds of 2.00+, in 7 days. Get up to £40 in free bets on selected events. Bonuses expire in 7 days. Card payments only. T&Cs apply, see below. begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly