Pep Guardiola’s side restored their eight-point gap over the Red Devils on Sunday thanks to David Silva’s late winner against West Ham United.
The result at the Etihad Stadium was City’s third consecutive 2-1 victory in the space of eight days, with the league leaders thoroughly tested by their opponents before striking late on.
United and City will contest the Manchester derby at Old Trafford next Sunday and Red Devils stalwart Neville believes that his former side will be optimistic going into the game.
“It has been a tough week for Manchester City, but a good one, though it has also been a good week for Manchester United as well, in terms of competitors chasing City,” Neville told Sky Sports News. “[United] might, for the first time this season, have just seen a little ray of hope, that there will be better teams than Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham, yet all came close.
“All three played a certain way and got joy with certain things – counter-attack has been a problem for City this week, set-pieces and corners have been a problem this week, deep and compact defences have also been a problem this week in terms of breaking them down.
“You would argue, given what happened at Arsenal on Saturday, that United do have that counter-attack ability with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard, and that they do have the ability to score from set-pieces, and they are a better defensive unit than Southampton or West Ham.
“United will be confident going into the game because of what has happened this weekend for City, even though it has been a good week for City too, as they’ve scored three late winners and have taken maximum points.”
Table-topping City have now won their last 13 Premier League matches and will be up against a United side missing the suspended Paul Pogba.