'Early derby win a huge headstart in title race' - Dunne
Former Blue Richard Dunne believes that the eventual winner of the Premier League this season will be involved in tomorrow's eagerly awaited derby at Old Trafford.
"I would say it could even come down to these results between the two teams because I think they'll beat the majority of teams," he said.
Chelsea will be strong but I don't know whether over the year they'll do it. I think these two teams are the top two teams. It will probably be within four or five points at the end of the season, so the results of these two games are going to be important."
Dunne's time with Manchester City coincided with a sharp rise in the club's financial well-being and with that came better players and more opportunities to throw Alex Ferguson's "noisy neighbours" jibe back in his face.
"Man United had bigger games than Man City when I was there. For us it was a huge match.
"Then in the last few years they started to have a bit more respect for us and it started to have a bigger edge. It was good. It's enjoyable.
"It's a very hard place to play. Especially when you are playing for Man City and Man United are the best team in the world, as they were at the time. It was a tough place to go.
"We only beat them once, on the 50th anniversary of Munich - we had to wear all the retro kits. We beat them 2-1 on the day. We did the double over them that season and it was the first time we did it for donkey's years.
"Now we are doing it on a regular basis. It's good, it's exciting. It's a huge match."
The teams face each other on equal terms in the context of buying power but Dunne is concerned that City's inability to find support for Sergio Aguero in the summer market could be a problem.
"I think they are both going to be a bit nervous because they both know they are going to be tested. I think there are weaknesses in both teams, as good as they are," he said.
"For Man City they haven't got any backup for Aguero. The fact that he is out, I think it was Guardiola who created the false nine, whether he goes with that or plays [Kelechi] Iheanacho up front, I don't know.
"United, I don't know what to make of them at the moment. They seem to be very physically strong, they can steamroll teams.
"But then they don't seem to have any pace without [Marcus] Rashford. They need to get Rashford in. [Anthony] Martial has not been very good.
"Then [Wayne] Rooney and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, they don't have the pace but they have the guile.
"Man City are all about pressing, squeezing, keeping the ball and when they lose it, getting it back.
"That's great but if you lose the ball and someone chips it over your midfielders, then that's seven or eight players out of the game straight away.
"If Man United are brave enough to keep forwards up and keep them spread, then the Man City defence could be dragged all over.
"That's why it's an interesting match. In my head, that's what I imagine could happen. But I'm sure Guardiola will have loads of different ideas.
"If the ball moves quickly from the back they can't do their press. They have that six-second rule - when the lose the ball they have six seconds to get it back.
"He had that at Barcelona and that's what he is trying to instil at Man City.
"But if the ball gets kicked from one end of the pitch to the other, there are loads of them out of the game."