Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has played up the significance of the Manchester derby ahead of Sunday's (Dec 11, 12.30am Singapore time) clash with fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, calling it the most important game of the season for all players involved.
The two Manchester football clubs currently sit atop the English Premier League, with City eight points clear of the Red Devils (35 points) after winning 13 league games on the trot.
United, meanwhile, will be defending a 40-game unbeaten streak across all competitions at home.
"Not just to me but to every player it means more than any other game. I'm very honest about it," Kompany told Manchester City's official website on Thursday. "I do think in football people like to downplay the derbies, say it's just another game, just another three points, but in reality it's so much more than that."
Said the 1.93m centre-back: "I think United have always been looking towards Liverpool. It's not shifting, but it's something where, at this moment in time, we will be the team that they want to beat more than any other."The 31-year-old has featured in cross-city skirmishes for nearly a decade since joining City in 2008, tasting victory nine times. He scored the winning goal in a 1-0 win over United in 2012, when Manchester City won their first Premier League title.
Kompany's side have been in irresistible form this season, banging in 62 goals in all competitions so far, but the City skipper acknowledged that the derby might be City's toughest test yet.
"United are able to be really solid defensively, but equally they are able to play offensive football and score a lot of goals. It all depends on the day but whatever approach they want they still have enough quality to mix it up," he said.
And although victory on Sunday would see City open up a formidable 11-point gap at the top of the table, Kompany resisted the suggestion that this might be the best City team he has been part of.
"It's been the best spell, but we need silverware," said the Belgium international, who won two Premier League titles in 2012 and 2014. "We need to win trophies consistently and show every week that we are the best team and then I'll give this (squad) top marks but we're not there yet."