Cole calls for big Reds performance
Andy Cole is under no illusions about the size of the task facing Manchester United on Sunday but is adamant a derby victory can be secured if Ralf Rangnick's side are in "tip-top" form.
The Treble winner, who also represented City later in his career, knows all about the all-Manchester encounters and appreciates anything can happen on derby day, regardless of where the teams sit in the table.
It appears imperative that United get our tactics right against a team that often dominates possession but, as recent visits to the Etihad Stadium have proved, lightning, incisive breaks are capable of hurting the Blues.
For Cole, it all comes down to whether the side he scored 121 goals for between 1995 and 2002 can produce our best level in what promises to be a stern test.
"Derby days are whatever they are," he told us. "I've got to be brutally honest and it doesn't really matter which teams are in whatever positions or whatever form. Ultimately, it all goes out of the window.
"Manchester United have been to the Etihad and got results when no-one expected them to get results. So it is that simple but, again being honest, it's a little bit harder this weekend because United's form has been so indifferent. We don't know which Manchester United is going to turn up.
"I must admit I was expecting us to win comfortably against Watford but it ended up being a 0-0 draw.
"So, I'm not sure what we'll see come Sunday. I'm not sure which result we'll see and I don't think anyone can say what will happen.
"Whatever Manchester United turns up and whatever Manchester City turns up, United can still get a result. People will say 'oh you're biased and a United fan' but I'm being honest. If the right United turns up, they can cause City problems and vice versa. That's football and, saying that, it's also a derby game as well. Anything can happen."
Cole accepts that pace on the break, and picking those moments right, is going to probably prove crucial to the Reds' chances of upsetting the Premier League leaders.
"They can be got at but United have to be in tip-top form to cause those problems," he added. "Counter-attacking football. They will dominate the ball for long periods of the game so counter-attacking football is massive for United to try to win the game, breaking with pace. You can ask where they have the pace to hurt City and I don't know really but Anthony Elanga could be an option.
"Marcus Rashford has pace but I don't know if Marcus is going to play. Jadon Sancho has decent pace. But I keep saying I just don't know really and football matches are never ever going to change. If you dominate the midfield areas, you've always got a chance of controlling a football match. If you look at how City play at the moment, they defend from the halfway line and you've got 40 yards to run into. It's whether you can get the ball into those positions to be able to hurt them.
"Let's see if we can do that. We know derby games are crazy games."