Manchester United v Manchester City: Yaya Toure cautions against writing off wounded United ahead of Old Trafford meeting

'The title race will be very tight. It’s important we score a lot of goals'

Manchester City must beware the wounded animal when they take the cross-town trip to Old Trafford on Tuesday, their midfielder Yaya Touré warned on Sunday, saying that Manchester United’s  struggles this season would count for nothing in the white heat of derby battle.

Third-placed City are 12 points better off than United in the Premier League – their biggest advantage going into a Manchester derby since March 1978 – but a wary Touré said: “People have been describing United as being not so good at the moment, but we have to be careful because derbies are never the same and they will have a lot of desire to beat us.

“Anyone can have a bad season,” added Touré, “but we all know United are a fantastic club with a great history, and have players to play at a high level. If they play like they did against Olympiakos, we have to be careful.”

The City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, admitted on Saturday that United’s struggles had surprised him – he had expected to be “fighting against them for the title” – but he too knows that “if we want to win we’re going to have a very difficult game”. If City do win, they will move within three points of leaders Chelsea, with two games still in hand on the Londoners.

This is a pivotal-looking week for City, who also visit Arsenal on Saturday – another side who will have a point to prove after their 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea. “Both games are important [and] we have to be sharp, clever and strong,” added Touré. “Arsenal, after losing to Chelsea, will be hungrier.”

City climbed above Arsenal into third place, with Saturday’s 5-0 rout of Fulham marking a return to their free-scoring form of the first half of the season.

It has given them a goal difference of +49 – five better than Liverpool and 10 better than Chelsea – which is something worthy of note at a club who pipped United to the 2012 title thanks to eight extra goals. “This year will be very tight so it’s important that we score a lot of goals,” said Touré, who hit his first career hat-trick against a doomed-looking Fulham side.

Touré’s treble took his tally for the season to 20. He is the third City player to reach that landmark this season after Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo.

A few months ago Touré was called “a liability” by the former  City midfielder Dietmar Hamann, but he underlined his virtues as a matchwinner once more and, with Fernandinho also scoring and David Silva shining, it was a good afternoon for City’s midfielders in the absence of forwards Aguero and Edin Dzeko.

“With those kinds of midfielders who are so good technically, we can do damage to any team,” said Pellegrini, who believes his side have found a better balance between attack and defence. “It is very important to know how to defend with fewer players, [as] it is not easy. Maybe at the beginning of the season we didn’t do it so well but at the moment we are the second best defenders in the league.”

Saturday brought their fourth straight clean sheet in the Premier League, albeit against a Fulham attack led by 19-year-old Cauley Woodrow. How they defend in the next four matches – against United, Arsenal, Southampton and Liverpool – could decide whether the title returns to Manchester or not.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
Extras
indybest
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style