Manchester City boss Pellegrini has picked up two wins, a draw and a defeat in his four Premier League games since replacing Roberto Mancini, while United counterpart Moyes has an identical record since succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.
Moyes will take his team across Manchester hoping to emulate last season’s dramatic 3-2 win for United and also maintain his own excellent record at the Etihad Stadium.
The Scot won on four of his last six visits as Everton manager, losing just once, and victory on Sunday would continue a run of ‘firsts’ for Moyes.
Last week’s 2-0 success over Crystal Palace was Moyes’ first win at Old Trafford before he celebrated his first Champions League group game as a manager by beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 at home on Tuesday.
Wayne Rooney was a central figure in that game after scoring twice, and he also netted a brace in the corresponding Manchester derby last season.
Rooney, who was described by Moyes as ‘world class’ after the Leverkusen win, put United 2-0 up before Robin van Persie’s deflected free-kick stole the points in stoppage-time after Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta had drawn City level.
However, last season’s goal-fest was a rarity as the previous six meetings at The Etihad had failed to produce a game containing more than one goal.
Pellegrini is familiar with low-scoring affairs against United as, in four encounters during his time as Villarreal coach, each game finished 0-0 in the Champions League.
City impressed in Europe in midweek after a 3-0 win over Viktoria Plzen and Pellegrini is seeking a hat-trick of home wins in the Premier League after beating Newcastle and Hull City 4-0 and 2-0 respectively.
And, despite injuries hitting City’s defence, they have kept clean sheets in four of their five games so far this season.
Paul Merson’s prediction
Wayne Rooney has played well in the last couple of games, but those were against Crystal Palace and Bayer Leverkusen. For me, they’re not the games he’ll be judged on. We need to judge him against the big boys and in games like this Manchester derby, so let’s wait and see.
Manchester City haven’t been great this season, but they’ll be up there because of the class they’ve got in their team. I’m not saying they’ll win the league but they should be up there.
I know a lot of the big games so far this season have been quite subdued because all teams are under pressure not to lose, but I think this will be quite open and there should be a few goals, especially if someone scores early. There’s a lot of good players on the pitch, but I’m just going for Man City with home advantage.