Matic: We know how to approach the derby
Nemanja Matic has stated his Manchester United team-mates will focus on their own capabilities during Sunday's Manchester derby, rather than concentrating on the threats posed by City.
The squad is under no illusions about the quality of Pep Guardiola's side, but our Serbia international believes the Reds can take the game to the reigning Premier League champions..
“I expect a very difficult game,
“ he told us. ”They are a very good side, they play good football, they score a lot of goals in every game, but we also have our qualities which we have to use..
“We have to stop them in their attacks, there is a way to do it and the manager knows that. We will prepare for the game. I expect a hard game but, in a derby, everything is possible, and we will be ready for that.”
United have earned ten points from 12 in the last four Premier League fixtures and can extend the unbeaten run to five, with a win at the Etihad Stadium this weekend.
Furthermore, the Reds earned a brilliant UEFA Champions League win over Juventus on Wednesday night - against a side that is widely regarded as the best in Europe.
Matic believes that the team's recent upturn in form has given the squad the vital belief to push onwards.
“I think that we believe more that we are a good team, we have also improved and mentally we are stronger,” he said.
“I think in the last four league games we have three wins and a draw, so this gives you more confidence, but we deserve that and will try to continue in this way.”
Sunday's trip across Manchester is United's third away fixture in a row, having travelled to the south coast to face Bournemouth last week before the midweek visit to Juventus.
With the Reds next home game not until 24 November, Mourinho’s men hope to ensure that points are gained on the road.
“This is our job – we were ready for that. Of course, it’s not easy but we are more comfortable to play at home in front of our supporters. Sometimes, like we’ve had now, we’ve had three consecutive away games and we are prepared for that because we also have our supporters with us.
“They are singing for all of the 90 minutes when we’re away, they’re helping us, and they make us feel like we’re at home. This was the case against Bournemouth and I want to say thanks to them because they were amazing.”
United fans will not need to be reminded of what occurred at the Etihad Stadium last season, when the Reds completed a remarkable second-half comeback after being 2-0 down.
“I remember that at half-time we felt that it was very hard [for us] but the manager came inside, sat with us and said he was believing that we can turn the result around,” Matic said.
“He said that in the first 20 minutes, before they scored the first goal, that we were the better side and he asked for us to continue to play like that – the first 20 minutes.
“He said if we did that, we had a chance to score goals and get some points – that’s exactly what we did,” he added.
“Paul scored two goals, Chris Smalling scored too, and it was a great comeback. I think in that moment, our supporters felt very proud and I was also very happy to make them happy to not allow Man City to celebrate winning the Premier League title in front of us.”
Nemanja is no stranger when it comes to local rivalries. The midfielder experienced plenty during his second spell at Chelsea, but also played in the Lisbon derby in his three years at Benfica, as well as in his time in Slovakia and Holland. He explained what are the key ingredients in making these fixtures so special.
“I think derbies are really special because it’s two local teams playing. The Manchester derby, for our supporters, is the most important game in the season.
“Always, a few days before the game, the people create that atmosphere that is special to them. We, as players, feel that it’s special because it’s special for our supporters and the club.”