Special game for the ‘special’ ones: Mourinho & Guardiola poised for Premier League crunch time

It was more a case of Christmas cheer rather than festive fury between managers as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola both spoke of a “special” Manchester rivalry ahead of their Sunday Premier League showdown.

Manchester United host Manchester City at Old Trafford as the top flight’s top two lock horns for the first time this season.

The home side are looking to set a new club record of 41 matches unbeaten at Old Trafford in all competitions, a feat which Sir Matt Busby’s side achieved between December 1964-March 1966.

City were the last team to beat United at Old Trafford 15 months ago in a 2-1 victory – the only game the Red Devils have lost in their last 55 matches at home.

United’s home ground has become a fortress again and it is the ideal venue to host the biggest game of the Premier League season so far.

“I don’t need to know that a derby is something special for the people,” Mourinho said.

“For us [United], in the end, it’s about three points but honestly, I think for the people born in the city and feeling the colours, it’s a good positive rivalry and a special match.”

United face a City side in imperious form, Guardiola’s men having won their last 13 Premier League games by an aggregate score of 46-9.

City are also unbeaten in their last 23 Premier League matches, winning 20, so it’s no wonder Spaniard Guardiola is relishing his fourth visit to Old Trafford as a manager.

“Going to Old Trafford is a pleasure,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager said.

“That’s why we are here. I will enjoy it, definitely.

“I am looking forward to arriving and playing. I love to be there, working out what we can do to beat them [United].”

Guardiola also suggested the relationship between him and Mourinho had mellowed since their fierce rivalry in Spain while in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“After we will shake hands.”

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