Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has denied Manchester United are having a crisis of confidence despite going three games without a goal.
City, meanwhile, have managed to open up a 14-point lead at the top of the Premier League table as United have managed just two wins from their last eight league games but Solskjaer insists his team are not out of form.
“We had a week without scoring a goal,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday.
“I’m not buying into the narrative we’ve had such a dip in form. We’ve not had margins. Three 0-0s isn’t us and it’s not what we set out to do. We’ve defended well but lacked that spark to score. I don’t buy the out of form one.”
Solskjaer has also argued United have tried to play “on the front foot” in big games this season despite heading into the Manchester derby still searching for their first win against a top six side.
Last season, United scored 15 goals and collected 18 points from 10 games against Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham. But ahead of the trip to the Etihad Stadium, their record this season stands at one goal and five points from seven matches, including five 0-0 draws.
“We’ve looked at it and in a strange sort of way, you might not agree, we’ve been more positive [this season],” Solskjaer said.
“We’ve been going high press on the front foot, trying to pin teams back. Last year maybe we relied more on the counter-attack, dropped deep and hung on. As a coach and manager it’s the worst feeling ever to be defending around the box. We’ve tried to go more positive but we’ve not been clinical or ruthless enough with chances. We have had chances.”
Dean Henderson is set to start in goal against City after No.1 David De Gea was given permission to attend the birth of his child in Spain. De Gea will be given time before returning to Englan dut Solskjaer says he expects the goalkeeper to be back “very soon”.
“I’ll give him the time he needs before he comes back, he asked to go home and in the old world that’s a day and you come back and you’re ready again and now we’re in a pandemic and the quarantines of course it’s a different world but still we felt it was right,” Solskjaer added.
“Dean came in [against Crystal Palace] and played well and he’s ready so I’ll give David the time he needs.
“As soon as David travels back we just have to follow the rules. Yeah, I expect him to be available very soon, not too far. I don’t know when he’ll be back, it won’t be long before he comes.
“Dean did well against Palace and I’m sure he’s looking forward to the City game as well, he’s had that experience already this season in the Carabao Cup so that stands him in good stead.”