FORMER Manchester United defender Denis Irwin believes United can overcome local rivals Manchester City when the two sides meet in the Premier League on Sunday.
The Red Devils can reduce the gap at the top to five points with a win at Old Trafford, against a strong City side who were the last away team to win at Old Trafford in September 2016.
Pep Guardiola’s side are unbeaten in all competitions so far this season and their points tally of 43 is the joint-highest in Premier League history after 15 games.
They can also set a new Premier League record of 14 consecutive wins with a victory on Sunday, but Irwin thinks United are capable of coming out on top.
“I think defensively they can be got at,” the 52-year-old said. “I think we’ll play like we did against Arsenal when we hit them on the break.
“Against Arsenal we attacked with speed. We scored three down there and we looked dangerous every time we went forward.
“I think we will get opportunities to break at them and we’ve got to make sure that we look after the ball in the final third and do the best we can.
“I think that will be the way we can win the game.”
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City have earned many plaudits for their style of play this campaign in what is Guardiola’s second season in charge.
And the former Republic of Ireland international says United need to be wary of City’s wealth of attacking options in order to be victorious.
“City will have a lot of possession, they’ve got a lot of players who are very comfortable, that’s the way they play.
“They’ve got players that can hurt you in the right areas for them outside our box.
“De Bruyne, Silva, Sane is a top player for them and Sterling is in a good run of form. We’ve got to be aware of these.
“They’ve also got Aguero and Jesus, either of them can play in there.”
United will be without French International star Paul Pogba, who Irwin stated would be a crucial player for United this season, after he was sent off against Arsenal on Saturday.
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Following a succession of huge wins, City have been claiming narrower victories recently thanks to a number of late winners.
With this coupled with United’s style of play, Irwin expects the derby to be a tight affair.
“I think everybody is expecting a lot of goals and I’m not sure it will play out like that.
“We got an early goal against Arsenal but it doesn’t bother me if we don’t in this game”, he added. “We saw with Tottenham we wore them down and against Brighton we eventually got the goals.
“I actually don’t see there being many goals in the game and I’m hoping that we sneak it either 1-0 or 2-1.”
Despite being so early in the season, Sunday’s match could potentially have a massive bearing on who takes home the Premier League trophy, with City having the opportunity to extend their lead to 11 points.
Up next: the Manchester derby… pic.twitter.com/3UR7FC1TSn
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Irwin, however, believes United will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
“We’ll be there. We’ve had a lot of tough games but I’m very comfortable.
“We’ve scored a lot of goals and kept some very good clean sheets as well.
“35 points after 15 games is a big points tally and it’s only the fact that City have accumulated eight points more that people are looking at us.
“We’re tucked in second place at the moment and it’s that eight point difference that makes Sunday even more important.”