Manchester United striker Robin van Persie says today's derby at Manchester City will be decisive in the title race.

Van Persie says neither club can afford to lose.

"I know this is a really important game," says the Holland striker, whose burgeoning partnership with Wayne Rooney will be a worry to City boss Manuel Pellegrini when he delivers his team talk.

"I personally never think in negatives, but for both sides it is really important to stay close to the top. The team who lose could be five or six points behind after five games. It's a lot, so we don't want that.

"Last year's win at City laid down a big marker for the season. We knew we'd be six points clear if we won, or scratch again [level] if we lost. So it was a massive win.

"The result helped us and harmed them. That's what happened. It was a six-pointer in my opinion. It was very sweet.

"Hopefully, we can win again. The games are coming really quick now and we love it. This is what we are used to, this is our rhythm, a game every three or four days.

"The Champions League has started, which we really like. Sunday is a massive game. We are looking forward to it."