Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola dismissed the suggestion his team have an advantage over Manchester United ahead of the derby due to their early Champions League qualification.
City will travel to Old Trafford to face Premier League rivals United on Saturday, not before the final round of group fixtures in the Champions League.
Guardiola’s City have already advanced to the last 16 and have the luxury of resting players for Wednesday’s Group C fixture against Marseille, while Solskjaer’s United need at least a point from their trip to RB Leipzig on Tuesday to progress from Group H.
But Guardiola – whose City are sixth and a point behind United – insisted there is no advantage for the Citizens against their neighbours.
“Sometimes we play three days without recovery; sometimes four,” Guardiola said.
“It’s a derby. We will be focused, committed and for these games, the players are not tired. It’s completely the opposite.”
City defeated London visitors Fulham 2-0 on Saturday as Guardiola celebrated his 700th career match in charge, while it was his 250th at the helm of the English side across all competitions.
The best bits of our win over Fulham
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 5, 2020
Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne were on target in Manchester, where the former earned his 20th penalty in the Premier League – more than any other player in the competition’s history.
De Bruyne has been involved in more shots than any other Premier League player this season (62 – 34 shots, 28 chances created), with the Belgian involved in eight against Fulham (six shots, two chances created).
United, meanwhile, won three of the four derbies last season, including March’s showdown at the Theatre of Dreams.
But City have kept four consecutive clean sheets in all competitions to be within six points of leaders Tottenham, and Guardiola added: “We are in a good moment right now, I would say.
“We are better than one month ago but that is normal. Without preparation, without time, it’s normal what happened.
“What’s important is that we are not far away from the top of the league and already qualified for the next round [of the Champions League]. This is important. Now we want to continue being there.”