Manchester United v Manchester City preview - A big game for several reasons

Manchester United and Manchester City lock horns at Old Trafford tomorrow in a derby that is key for both managers.

Odds: Manchester United 5/2, Draw 13/5, Manchester City 6/5

It is a big game for both sides for obvious and different reasons. Neither side wants to lose to their local rivals.

United have had a disappointing season and won’t want their neighbours rubbing their noses in it, as City are searching for their second Premier League crown in three years.

David Moyes could do with a strong finish to the season with his Manchester United side currently sitting in seventh place in the Premier League table, 12 points adrift of Manchester City, who sit in third having played a game less.

For City it is one of their games in hand on league leaders Chelsea as they look to close the gap to three points – with an extra two games to play than Jose Mourinho’s men.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side seem to have rediscovered their form after being knocked out of both the FA Cup and Champions League – which threatened to derail their season. They’re the title favourites, and their rivals will be hoping for United to throw a spanner in the works and at least take something off City.

The home side probably aren’t best equipped to deal with City’s great attacking threat given the lack of centre-backs available. Nemanja Vidic is suspended, and also has a groin problem. Rio Ferdinand has a back problem, Chris Smalling has a hamstring injury and Jonny Evans is struggling with a calf injury.

That list means that Phil Jones is the only recognised centre-back available. Michael Carrick was part of the back four on Saturday and could play there again this week.

It’s just as well that Sergio Aguero is out injured with a hamstring problem for the visitors and that Alvaro Negredo is out of form, but Yaya Toure seems to have found his shooting boots, and has become Manchester City's top scorer in the Premier League this season. The visitors will be boosted by Vincent Kompany's return from suspension.

Yaya Touré Man City MF 16 27 2,330
Sergio Agüero Man City FW 15 17 1,199
Wayne Rooney Man Utd FW 13 25 2,103
Robin van Persie Man Utd FW 11 18 1,466
Álvaro Negredo Man City FW 9 25 1,605
Danny Welbeck Man Utd FW 9 20 1,194

United are also missing Robin Van Persie through a knee injury, which may lead to Moyes going with more men in the middle of the park in order to try and stop City from getting into a rhythm and giving the home side a bit more control, and Wayne Rooney leading the attack on his own.

Either way United will be keen to avoid the 4-1 hammering they suffered at the hands of City at the Etihad Stadium earlier on in the season, which could have been worse if City didn’t take their foot off the gas early on in the second half.

If the home side allow Toure and Fernandinho to dictate things in the middle of the park, they could be in serious trouble, meaning the likes of Fellaini and Carrick are going to be vital – wherever they may play.

It’s a game for United to show they are still capable of fighting towards the top end of the table and that this season is just a blip, and a chance for City to take command in the title race. If either side loses, the manager of that side could come under some added pressure. David Moyes needs to show signs of promise, whilst Manuel Pellegrini needs to deliver here and now. A fascinating contest awaits.

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