Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts with teammate Federico Macheda after scoring against Aston Villa during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester.
Top spot in the Premier League will be at stake in Sunday's Manchester derby, but leaders Manchester United and champions Manchester City are both still to hit their stride this season.
The two teams are threatening to leave third-place Chelsea trailing in their wake, and yet a glance at the league table reveals that all is not well at either Old Trafford or the Etihad Stadium.
United, who lead City by three points, have already been beaten by Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City, and have shipped 21 goals in 15 games -- more at this stage of the campaign than in any season since 2001-02.
And while City boast the last unbeaten record in English league football, they have drawn six times and were eliminated from all European competition on Tuesday after losing 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
"We are both in a similar situation," says Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs, whose side edged Reading 4-3 in a madcap encounter last weekend.