Manchester derby highlights Premier League's weekend slate
Manchester, England (Sports Network) - Manchester City will host Manchester United at the Etihad on Sunday in what is shaping up to be another classic derby between two bitter rivals.
Both sides come into the affair on seven points in the Premier League table, three points off the pace of first-place Liverpool.
They also are riding high after picking up wins in Champions League action on Tuesday. City cruised to a 3-0 victory at Viktoria Plzen while United battled to a 4-2 defeat of Bayer Leverkusen, a pleasing result given the impact that Wayne Rooney had on the proceedings.
The Englishman bagged a brace in Tuesday's clash to become Great Britain's all-time leading scorer in the Champions League with 29 goals. He also brought his United tally to 200 goals across all competitions.
"It was probably Wayne's best performance that I've seen for a while," United midfielder Michael Carrick told the club's official website. "It's great to have him in that form - he can be untouchable when he's like that.
"To have lads like that in your team is brilliant. I thought Antonio (Valencia) was immense on Tuesday night as well and to have Wayne and Robin (van Persie) scoring and assisting is fantastic. Even if they're maybe not having the best of games they can always come up with something. I thought they played really well on Tuesday."
The performance puts United in good stead heading into such a massive fixture, and the Red Devils will have three points in their sights having turned out some solid displays thus far.
"I don't think we've played that badly so far this season," Carrick added. "The Swansea (win) was a good game, the Chelsea one was tight, but Liverpool is always a bit of a one-off game which you can't really read too much into.
"We won at the weekend, and on Tuesday we took it to another level and improved again. Hopefully we can do it again on Sunday. The performance will breed confidence, and we'll have to do it all again on Sunday."
United proved last season that the club is capable of winning at the Etihad as the Red Devils marched on to three points with a 3-2 win in the corresponding fixture last term. Rooney produced two goals that were eventually canceled out by Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta, but it was van Persie's last-gasp free kick that proved to be the difference between the two sides.
City will be eager to erase any lingering memories of that defeat, as well as its title concession to United at the end of the season, but it will need to overcome any travel fatigue that may have set in from the club's midweek journey to the Czech Republic.
Arsenal also endured some travel during the week as it claimed a 2-1 victory over Marseille at the Stade Velodrome on Wednesday, but the Gunners will not enjoy the extra day of rest that the Citizens were afforded. Arsene Wenger's side, looking to make it a fourth straight Premier League win, will take on Stoke City at the Emirates on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, Tottenham, which hosted Tromso in Europa League action on Thursday, will head to Cardiff City Stadium to take on the Bluebirds while Swansea City, fresh off of its comfortable Europa League victory at Valencia, will travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace.
West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland have struggled mightily out of the gates this season. Neither side has managed to earn a win through four matches, but they will fancy their chances to claim maximum points on Saturday when the bottom-two clubs do battle at the Hawthorns.
First-place Liverpool enters the weekend in a rare position as it looks down at the rest of the Premier League with 10 points through four games. The Reds will return to action following Monday's 2-2 draw at Swansea City with a potentially tricky fixture against Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.
Elsewhere on Saturday, former Norwich City boss Paul Lambert returns to Carrow Road as he leads his Aston Villa side into a contest with the Canaries, Newcastle looks to extend its unbeaten run to four games with a positive result against Hull City at St. James' Park, Everton tests its unbeaten start to the season with a trip to Upton Park to take on West Ham, and Chelsea looks to return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats to Everton and FC Basel when it welcomes Fulham to Stamford Bridge.