Kevin De Bruyne has warned Manchester City to expect a strong response from Manchester United following their exit from the Champions League.
City travel to Old Trafford on Saturday for the first derby of the season with United stinging from their 3-2 loss to RB Leipzig, which saw them miss out on the Champions League knockout stages.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side sit a place and a point above City in the Premier League table and De Bruyne is expecting a reaction after their European disappointment.
“We need to be careful because everything that has happened this week, it is a good game for them to change the switch,” the Belgian midfielder said.
“They will want to show a different side to what happened in Leipzig and we need to be aware of that.
“In the end it is similar for them as it is for us, both teams want to keep momentum from the last few weeks and it is important to do that.”
The two rivals met four times last season with United winning three of those games. Pep Guardiola’s side were caught out by their opponents’ quick counter-attacking, particularly through Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
But with Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek joining in the summer, De Bruyne believes United could play a more attacking derby this season.
“They have some new players and maybe they will play a bit more offensively but we will see tomorrow,” he added.
“After five minutes you are going to know what is happening in the game and then it depends how the game goes, who scores first.
“They played defensively and on the counter last season and picked us off really well. I remember the home game when we lost 2-1 but we made a couple of mistakes and it was difficult to come back.
“In the away game I wasn’t there so I don’t know the details but they won three out of four last year so we need to try and make that right.”
City strengthened themselves in the summer with Ruben Dias, in particular, helping to give a strong defensive base alongside John Stones or Aymeric Laporte, who missed much of last season through injury.
“I think we are playing more solid,” De Bruyne said. “At the beginning of the year, we lost ones we shouldn’t have, conceding goals and not scoring a lot of goals so it is difficult when you don’t score.
“It is hard but lately we have been scoring a few goals, not conceding many. It makes it easier for everybody and makes everybody feel comfortable.”
City go into the game six points behind Tottenham and Liverpool with a game in hand.
The top half of the Premier League is separated by just seven points and De Bruyne is not surprised that this season is an open title race with injuries and a hectic schedule meaning a number of teams are capable of making a challenge.
“It is something I expected before the season just with the way everything happened last year with having no pre-season while some had one and some didn’t, injuries and then a lot of teams became stronger,” he added.
“I think it is going to be open and it seems that way. I think teams are so good and every team has got quality so if you are not 100 per cent there is a chance you can lose these games.
“I think this has been happening for every team. I think the team that goes on a decent run with six, seven games in a row then maybe there will be a gap, but at the moment that has not been the case.”