Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has labeled rival Manchester United as the favorite to win the Premier League title heading into this Sunday's top-of-the-table derby.
"In this moment United are favorites but the season is long," Mancini said. "They were a strong team and (then) they bought (Robin) Van Persie and (Shinji) Kagawa. They put another player that scores 25 goals into the squad."
With United boasting a three-point advantage but City having a better goal difference, the two sides are in exactly the same position as they were ahead of the corresponding fixture last season.
On that occasion, City famously won through Vincent Kompany's header to seize control of the title race with just two games remaining.
There is far more football to play this time around but Mancini acknowledges the importance of the occasion.
"They can lose because they have three points more," said the City chief. "We have three points less and we can't lose."
Yet, despite his side's status as champion and the fact it completed a Premier League double over United last season, including that amazing 6-1 win at Old Trafford, Mancini insists the Red Devils are the favorites.
"They are better than us at this moment," said Mancini. "We have only been here for two years. They are used to playing these games in the title race for 20 years. They have won everything for 15 years. You can't change this in two or three years. You need more time. For this reason they have a small advantage."
Both teams' lineups face uncertainty because of injuries.
Manchester City will give David Silva every chance to play Sunday.
Although Mancini has ruled Aleksandar Kolarov out of the Etihad Stadium encounter, Silva, who missed the Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund in midweek with a hamstring injury, remains in contention.
"We will try with David," said Mancini.
Gael Clichy and James Milner are both battling to recover from ankle and hamstring problems respectively, though Mancini is wary of pushing both men into action too quickly.
"It is a big risk because afterwards we have a lot of games between now and the end of December and we need all the players to recover."
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said midfielder Tom Cleverley was set for a scan on his calf injury Friday.
The 23-year-old limped out of United's 1-0 Champions League defeat to Cluj on Wednesday, leaving him doubtful for Sunday's eagerly-anticipated clash.
"Tom Cleverley is having a scan today. It is a calf. We shall see," Ferguson said.
Ferguson also revealed that Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic, who have both suffered knee injuries, are struggling to be fit.
"I thought Kagawa may have a chance but he is still a bit short. He won't be available until Sunderland next week," Ferguson said. "Nemanja Vidic is certainly doing well in training. It is just his own confidence to play. He will be ready for Sunderland."
Information from Press Association was used in this report.