Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany believes the derby against Manchester United is the biggest fixture of the season and he would feel the same even if the two teams were not involved in the Premier League title race.
Leaders City would open an 11-point advantage over second-placed United with a win at Old Trafford on Sunday.
But Kompany, who scored a derby winner for City against United in their title-winning season in 2012, says the rivalry is more than just about the points on the table.
“I kind of press pause when it’s a derby and the season doesn’t matter to me anymore, it’s all about the derby,” the 31 year-old centre back told Sky Sports.
“Managers and players do like to downplay it, but I don’t care, it’s rubbish. The derby at that moment is the most important game in the world to me. “It doesn’t matter which position we are in, whether we need a point, three points, I don’t care, we need to make sure we leave that place with our heads high.”
Kompany accepts that some players want to avoid the added pressure surrounding a local derby.
“I think it’s a natural thing to want to almost put expectations a bit lower, because it makes you feel like the pressure is perhaps easier to deal with, but in my case I am happy to deal with pressure,” he added.
“I enjoy it more than anyone else and I am happy to say that the derby is more important than any other game. I don’t care what anyone says.”
City won 2-1 at Old Trafford in the league last season before the sides played out a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium.