Manuel Pellegrini knows his Manchester City side will face a tough task when they meet local rivals Manchester United on Sunday, regardless of whether or not Wayne Rooney is fit.
Following a three-match suspension for his sending off against West Ham, the United skipper is due to return to the fold at the Etihad and will add extra firepower to Louis van Gaal’s already impressive forward line.
In his absence, the Red Devils have stumbled somewhat with draws against West Brom and Chelsea, although they did hold on for victory against Everton and now look to be getting to grips with the Dutchman’s tactics after a difficult start to the campaign.
City, who are 4.10 to win the title, haven’t always been at their best themselves so far this term and go into Sunday’s fixture on the back of a surprise away defeat at West Ham which left them six points behind leaders Chelsea.
Things could get worse if Rooney, who is the record goalscorer in Manchester derbies, returns for the clash but Pellegrini believes his team will face a tough time whoever lines-up for their rivals.
“I think Rooney is a very important player for Manchester United but I think that big teams never depend on one player,” he told a press conference. “They have enough important, creative players to replace him.”
Before Sunday’s game, City have the small matter of Wendnesday’s Capital One Cup fourth round clash with Newcastle to deal with but will expect to beat the Magpies and are the current favourites for the win at 1.26, with the draw 5.90 and Alan Pardew’s men 8.56.