Sterling impressed by Man Utd's fighting spirit with Man City wary of Rashford threat

Raheem Sterling says he has been impressed with Manchester United’s intensity and fighting spirit as he looks forward to today’s Manchester derby.

The Manchester City forward will be expected to play a key role if Pep Guardiola’s side are to avoid another let-down and keep up the pressure at the top of the Premier League table.

United were much improved in their 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in midweek, which followed draws with Sheffield United and Aston Villa and a Europa League defeat at Astana.

"The last couple of games I have seen them they have been very intense," Sterling told Football Focus.

"They’re fighting for their manager, their team and their football club and that’s really great to see when squad players fight for the shirt, and that’s what they’re doing."

"Their front line is their biggest threat. They’ve got Marcus [Rashford] up front who’s a real hazard in and around the box."

While Rashford initially seemed to struggle with the goalscoring burden placed on him at the start of the season, the England man now has six goals in his last seven Premier League appearances – including a brace last time out against Spurs.

Marcus Rashford Manchester United 2019-20

Sterling, meanwhile, has been going through a lean spell by his own lofty standards. After starting the season with five goals in three games, he has netted just three more in his subsequent 11 league appearances.

Despite his goalscoring feats over the last few seasons, Sterling is still yet to find the net in any game against Manchester United.

"I look forward to changing that stat this weekend," he added.

"We all know who Manchester United are as a club.

“They’re going through a transitional period but they play some great football at times.

“They’ve played against the big teams this season and got results out of those games so we know it will always be a difficult game and this time is no different."

Saturday’s derby takes on the shape of a game neither side can really afford to lose, regardless of North-West bragging rights.

Manchester City started the weekend 11 points adrift of Liverpool in first, while United have an eight-point gap to chip away at between themselves and the top four – with as many as five teams realistically able to overtake them if United come away from the Etihad with nothing.