Premier League Sunday preview: Manchester derby takes center stage

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Manchester City vs. Manchester United – NBCSN, 8:30 a.m. ET

This is it. The pride of Manchester is on the line. Heading into Sunday’s match at the Etihad Stadium, things couldn’t be tighter. Man City are in a slump, as the reigning Premier League champions have lost two games in a week to West Ham United in the league and Newcastle in the League Cup. Plus their UEFA Champions League hopes hang in the balance after a collapse in Moscow. It’s not been a good 10 days for Manuel Pellegrini. As for Manchester United and Louis van Gaal, who will be tasting his first derby, they are starting to get there. Nothing groundbreaking from the Red Devils of late, but that last-gasp point at home to Chelsea last weekend will certainly give them plenty of confidence heading into this one. City have won the last three Manchester derbies and five of the last six. They have been dominant. With David Silva out injured and the Citizens struggling for form, can Wayne Rooney return to inspire United to a shock win at the home of their bitter rivals?

Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur – NBCSN, 11 a.m. ET

Two teams in bad form meet at Villa Park on Sunday, as both Paul Lambert and Mauricio Pochettino could really do with a win. Villa have lost five on the spin after a great start to the campaign, while Spurs lost to Newcastle last time out and are struggling. Pochetttino has questioned the mental toughness of his players, as they have now lost at home to West Brom, Liverpool and Newcastle. As for Villa, they haven’t scored in over eight hours and have hit the net just four times this season. As I said, both teams are desperate for a W. Historically Spurs have been the big winners as they have won five-straight against Villa and haven’t lost to the Midlands club in their last 12 meetings in league and cup games. This one will all come down to which set of players want it more.