Manchester City’s Fernandinho expects Manchester United to feel the absence of Paul Pogba in this weekend’s derby.
Pogba, United’s record signing, is out of Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford through suspension.
City midfielder Fernandinho still believes United will prove formidable opposition for Pep Guardiola’s side, who are bidding to extend an eight-point lead at the top of the table.
The Brazilian said: “Any team that loses such a good player, they are going to miss him. But Manchester United have good players and it doesn’t matter who is going to play in his position, they will do a good job. It will be a tough game for both teams.”
City go into the game on the back of their first defeat since April. They were beaten 2-1 by Shakhtar Donetsk in an inconsequential Champions League group match in Ukraine on Wednesday.
It was hardly ideal preparation for one of the most intense fixtures in their schedule, but Fernandinho thinks the loss could be just the jolt the City team needed to stave off any complacency.
City had won their previous 20 games in all competitions, many of them convincingly.
Fernandinho, 32, said: “The people around the club, when we start to win a lot of games, they start to say a lot of things and it’s not good. Some of us could relax and drop our levels.
“So if you have to choose a moment to lose then this would be the right one.
“Derbies are always special. We need to be 100% ready and focused to do our best and try to win the game.”
Victory would give City an 11-point advantage over their chief rivals but Fernandinho insists that would not finalise anything.
He said: “The Premier League is so hard and tough, you can drop points at any time. It will be a little step for us if we win this game, but nothing will be finished. There will still be a long way to go.”
Meanwhile, United will see their run of 58 televised FA Cup ties come to an end after the visit of Derby was not selected for broadcast in the third-round schedule announced yesterday.
The Merseyside clash between Liverpool and Everton will open the weekend’s live action on Friday, January 5, kicking off at 7.55pm and shown on BBC One.
Chelsea’s trip to Norwich and the visit of FA Cup holders Arsenal to Nottingham Forest will also feature, but United miss out.
The last time an FA Cup tie involving the Red Devils did not appear on television was almost 13 years ago when Alex Ferguson’s side drew 0-0 at home to Exeter in the third round, in January 2005.
The Rams will head to Old Trafford for a match which will be played at 3pm on Saturday, January 6.
Saturday’s action will start with Leicester facing a potential banana skin away to either Fleetwood Town or Hereford. The match will kick off at 12.45pm and is to be broadcast live on BBC One.
Premier League champions Chelsea head to Carrow Road later in the afternoon, with the 5.30pm kick-off shown by BT Sport 1, who will also screen the Gunners’ trip to the City Ground at 4pm on Sunday, January 7.
Brighton’s home tie against Crystal Palace has been selected for the Monday evening slot, which will see video assistant referees trialled for the first time in competitive action.
The recent Premier League fixture between the two rivals was marred by crowd trouble as some fans without tickets tried to force their way into the Amex Stadium.
The decision was taken to lock turnstiles at 7.51pm, six minutes into a match which finished goalless.
Six people, including one 15-year-old boy, were arrested, while two stewards — one from each club — had to be taken to hospital, one with three fractured ribs. Some supporters who held tickets were unable to get inside the ground.
Disturbances also broke out at Brighton railway station, where frustration grew among fans set to miss the start of the match.
Sussex Police has apologised to both clubs and their supporters for saying that discarded weapons had been found at the stadium.
A statement said: “The reference to weapons being found discarded at the stadium following the Brighton v Crystal Palace match on November 28 was based on information logged by our officers on the night and done so in good faith.
“Subsequently, it has been established that no such items were physically recovered at the stadium or in the city. We accept that this information was incorrect and the tweet published earlier today (December 7) by one of our officers was wrong.
“Sussex Police apologises to both clubs and their supporters.”
Sussex Police started planning for the high-profile FA Cup fixture, in liaison with both clubs and other partners.
Other live third round ties are West Ham’s trip to Shrewsbury at 2pm on January 7, screened on BBC One, while Newport’s home game against Leeds, kick-off at 12pm, will be broadcast by BBC Wales.
Clubs selected for the televised ties on either BBC One or BT Sport will receive £144,000 (€165,000) from the FA’s broadcast fund.
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