MANCHESTER, England -- Pep Guardiola said Sunday's Manchester derby will be a special occasion but that it is too early for the match to be considered the biggest game of the season.
The Manchester City boss faces old rival Jose Mourinho, whose Manchester United side delayed them winning last season's Premier League title with a surprise 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium in April.
City are nine points clear of their rivals but Guardiola insisted a derby win would not kill off United's chances of challenging them for the title.
"All derbies are special, I think in Spain there is more noise than here but special, special for everybody," he said. "Of course it means a lot to the supporters, they are special but we are in Novmeber, maybe the game at Old Trafford will be more important but it's a good one for us and United.
"Like all the games are so tight, last minutes no team controlled the game and you have to defend well and try to attack like we've done in the last few games.
"Win or lose they are not out. It's not possible in November, they've already showed they can recover. They are a big club with a big mentality."
Despite the gap in the table, both sides go into the game in good form and on the back of strong Champions League performances -- United won 2-1 away at Juventus while City thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0.
"No doubt about that -- they've improved," Guardiola said. "If they can win in Turin, not lost in nine years there, how strong [Juve] are.
"I see a team with a lot of commitment, aggression without the ball, everybody runs in front and everybody runs in behind the ball and a few weeks ago in Stamford Bridge -- one of the toughest places -- until the last minute they were going to win.
"A team has good and bad moments and this moment they have confidence. It was never easy for Man City to beat United in the whole history Man United win more times than City. But they're a good rival and it's a good chance to get three points and move them away."
Guardiola also said he was happy that the fixture was no longer viewed as a rivalry between the two managers after their squabbles during their time as Barcelona and Real Madrid coaches.
"Thank you so much for that," he said. "We are both good guys, more than you expect, it's much better, believe me."
Guardiola was also asked about Dani Alves's comments that being coached by the Catalan was "better than sex."
"I prefer the sex -- by far," he said.