Ander Herrera has labelled Manchester United’s Premier League trip to Manchester City as a potential make-or-break “game of the season”.
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have endured topsy-turvy first campaigns in the north west and are now vying it out for Champions League qualification.
Europa League glory would offer United a route back to the continent’s top table, but they are also fighting desperately for a top-four finish having narrowly missed out to City last term.
Premier League matters are all that Guardiola’s men have to focus on after Sunday’s chastening FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal – a loss that could be compounded at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.
Fifth-placed United are within a point of City in fourth and Herrera is well aware how big this week’s meeting is.
“It is going to be the game of the season,” the Spanish midfielder said with relish. “We are one point behind them.
“If we win we have the chance to finish in the top four, if they win it is going to be very difficult. It is the game of the season.
“Make or break? Probably. Both teams are in a good moment so if one of us wins the game we are not going to lose a lot of games, or make mistakes after that. Us or them. It is going to be key.
“I don’t know the ‘winner takes all’ expression but it is going to be a massive game.
“We are in a very good moment, a very good run and we respect them but we are doing a lot of good things and we have to show it on Thursday.”