Jesse Lingard has issued a pre-derby rallying cry, calling on United to “make sure that Manchester is red” following a clash with City.
The next chapter of a famous sporting tale is set to be written at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola will take his Premier League leaders to the Theatre of Dreams boasting an eight-point lead at the top of the table, but aware that anything can happen in the Manchester melting pot.
Lingard sees no reason why Jose Mourinho’s side cannot claim a prized scalp and keep themselves very much in title contention, with the players fully aware of what is at stake.
“It’s two great teams going out there and you don’t know what the game is going to be like. It might be a battle; it might not be pretty. But if we come out on top, it’s always good for the city of Manchester. We need to make sure that Manchester is red at the end of the day. Like us, they have lots of big players.
“When [Kevin] De Bruyne’s on the ball, he’s always got that eye for a killer pass that can put a player one-on-one with the keeper, and Raheem Sterling’s been popping up with the late goals.
“It’s going to be full-on for 90-plus minutes. We need to be on point until that whistle goes, so everyone needs to stay highly-concentrated throughout. As long as we start the game well, like we did at Arsenal, I don’t see any reason why we can’t win.”
Lingard netted twice in the aforementioned performance at Arsenal, with a 3-1 win helping to underline United’s claims to a sustained challenge for the top-flight crown.
As a home-grown talent, a meeting with City means more to the 24-year-old than it does many of the global superstars that will be on display.
He is, however, eager to ensure that there are no distractions, with emotion put to one side in the pursuit of precious points.
“You know quite a lot of them [City’s Academy players] growing up, and through the England set-up as well,” added Lingard.
“I’m good friends with Raheem [Sterling] off the pitch. But when you’re on the pitch, there are no friends and we’re there to do a job and win the game.”