Which version of City will turn up in Manchester derby?

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Who knows which Manchester City will turn up at Old Trafford on Saturday?

If it’s the brilliantly creative side that tore into Club Brugge in the second half of Wednesday night's 4-1 Champions League victory at the Etihad, then a repeat of Manchester United’s humiliation at the hands of Liverpool could be repeated.

But if it’s the side that laboured to create opportunities in the first half and looked vulnerable to the Belgian side’s counterattacks, then under-pressure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could continue his record of winning more games against Pep Guardiola than he's lost.

A fortnight ago, the City boss must have watched Jurgen Klopp mastermind a dominant 5-0 destruction at Old Trafford and been counting down the days to his own visit.

In the days that followed, however, the Premier League champions have lost some of their sparkle and fallen behind in this season's title race as a result.

Back-to-back blanks in a Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham and a home loss to Crystal Palace have damaged their early-season confidence.

The opening period against Brugge continued in the same fashion; it was only in the final half hour, when they cut loose, that the old swagger started to return.

It has left Guardiola with a few selection dilemmas going into the weekend – primarily in attack.

The Catalan must decide which players are most likely to take their chances, given United are likely to revert to a more defensive approach and play on the break – tactics which have served them well in recent derbies.

It will not be an easy call, given his forwards' fluctuating form.

Raheem Sterling has been desperate to get the chance to make an impact and he buzzed around dangerously against Brugge after coming on as a 69th-minute substitute.

The England international almost scored with his first slaloming run until Ilkay Gundogan took a shot off him before then tapping home his first goal since August.

Meanwhile, Jack Grealish had another frustrating night and was shut down successfully until he was replaced by Gabriel Jesus, who scored with the final touch of the game.

Kevin De Bruyne was also left out of the starting line-up after a mixed start to the season.

Behind them, John Stones will come back in for just his second Premier League start of the season due to Aymeric Laporte's suspension and will hope for better luck than he had against Brugge, with the centre-half gifting the visitors a 17th-minute equaliser when the ball deflected in off his head for an own goal.

The defence still looks vulnerable to long balls, which is particularly worrying going into Saturday's game, as United duo Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have exploited City's high line in the past. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will, of course, be hoping that he can get a positive result in the derby to ease the pressure that has been building on the United manager in recent weeks.

United will go into this massive game boosted by Cristiano Ronaldo's midweek heroics – just as they did when they hosted Liverpool a couple of weeks ago. 

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s double in Tuesday's draw at Atalanta means United's Champions League destiny remains in their own hands, while at the same time partially deflecting attention away from what was yet another dismal performance.

They certainly won't get away with a similarly sluggish showing against their city rivals.

City are masters of breaking through teams that don’t press effectively and, as they cut through Brugge in the second half, they looked more like the side that won so impressively at Chelsea and drew at Liverpool.

Guardiola says he hasn't watched United's game at Atalanta yet, having been solely focused on his own side's European exertions, but for the next 48 hours he will be thinking about nothing else but the derby.

"I know how good they are, we saw it last season," he said in a surprisingly passionate post-match press conference. "They have one of the best players in history – a guy who can be a scoring machine.

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"We’ll try to impose our game, but we cannot deny whatever happens, City is City and that’s good. We’ll play our way and we’ll try to do it on Saturday."

City's best performances have come away from home this season and Guardiola seems to be getting his team fired up for another one. 

Perhaps a visit to Old Trafford has come at the right time after all.

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