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Premier League: Manchester derby special but also just another fixture says Guardiola

Playing in the cauldron of Old Trafford is always unique, said Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola whose team travel across the city for the Premier League derby on Sunday.

Defending champion City is second in the table, six points ahead of their neighbours in eighth.

“When I was in Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and I travelled to England to play United at Old Trafford, it was always special, special scenarios, special place, and of course it is special for our fans,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

“But at the end, it’s a football game. It’s not like the FA Cup final or fixtures where winning or losing can define winning or not in the Premier League. It is still the (10th) fixture, so 87 points to play, it’s another game, you have to be focused on what you have to do to beat them.”

Sunday’s clash with Manchester United will be a good test of his team’s mentality, Guardiola said.

“We have won a lot, it is not about whether we win, what is going to happen? I want to see my team prove they have the right mentality you need to win these games,” he said.

Last season’s treble winners lost two consecutive Premier League games before the international break but bounced back with wins over Brighton & Hove Albion and Young Boys in the Champions League.

Erik ten Hag’s United has won three straight games, including its dramatic 1-0 win over Copenhagen in the Champions League on Tuesday.

City crushed United 6-3 at home last season but lost 2-1 at Old Trafford.

City also defeated United in the FA Cup final this year and went on to match United’s achievement of the treble in 1999.

“It’s OK – it’s a good rivalry,” Guardiola said. “We won the treble, it was so important for us as a side to arrive in Istanbul (for the Champions League Final) with the chance to do that.”

The Spanish manager said it was too early to tell which teams will challenge for the Premier League title.

“All the teams are there. Some teams that are a bit behind can get back,” he said. “When you play just nine games, many things are going to happen still. We have been behind in February and March and still been able to win.”

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