Joleon Lescott believes Manchester City have nothing to fear as they head to Old Trafford for this weekend’s derby.
The former City defender also thinks rivals Manchester United are at least two years away from being able to challenge City for the Premier League title.
Defending champions City face a crunch test in their bid to overhaul Arsenal at the top of the table when they face their resurgent neighbours across town on Saturday.
United have won their last eight games in all competitions and a derby victory would take them within a point of City, who are also reeling from a surprise Carabao Cup quarter-final loss to Southampton in midweek.
Yet Pep Guardiola’s side have lost just two of their nine visits to Old Trafford and Lescott does not think they have anything to worry about now.
The former City defender said: “With the greatest respect to Old Trafford, I don’t think there are many teams that are overawed now.
“I think in recent years and seasons it’s been a place where you feel you can get something, and it’ll be no different for City.”
United were thrashed 6-3 by City when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium in October but their improvement since has been marked.
Erik ten Hag’s side have lost just one of their 18 games and are fourth in the table, with a game in hand on third-placed Newcastle, ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
After a dismal start to the season, which also included a humiliating 4-0 loss at Brentford, optimism is growing at United but Lescott feels it is premature to think they could get into the title race.
The 40-year-old, who won the Premier League twice with City, said: “Are they title contenders? I still think they are one or two seasons away.
“Form can change pretty quickly. We’ve seen Man Utd in the past go 10-12 games unbeaten but we’ve seen Liverpool and City go and win 10 in a row. That’s the new normal, that’s a third of the points you need to win the league.
“So until someone’s able to do that, you can’t genuinely be considered. We’ve seen Arsenal do that now and they’re flying at the top of the league and still people are doubting whether they are contenders.
“So, in regards to Man Utd, I still think they are a couple of seasons away.”
In terms of the current City side, Lescott has been hugely impressed by the form of centre-back John Stones.
“I think he’s been amazing,” said Lescott of the 28-year-old. “I think it’s the longest period he’s played at his best.
“We’ve seen these performances before but we’ve also seen inconsistencies.
“But at the moment I don’t think there are any inconsistencies in his game. I think it’s assured. He’s playing with a level of confidence where he believes he can’t get beat.”
:: Watch Man Utd v Man City exclusively live on BT Sport 1 this Saturday from 11:30am. BT Sport Monthly Pass is the flexible, contract free way to watch, for more info visit bt.com/sport