Arsenal icon: United failed to stop 'Pool title push, won't stop City either

Former Arsenal man tips Manchester City to edge Manchester United in this evening's derby.

"For Manchester United, it's all about stopping City from winning the league," Paul Merson, a two-time titlist winner with Arsenal said in his weekly column on Sky Sports, demonstrating the extent of regional rivalries in football.

A former Gunner, Merson will have no doubt rejoiced when Arsenal sneaked fourth spot in the Premier League to deny Tottenham Hotspur a passage into the Champions League the following season in 2013 and 2011.

For United, their neighbours City are loathed with almost as much passion as their long-running competitive rivals Liverpool. While David Moyes' side were unable to obtain a victory, a goal or even a point against the Reds earlier this month - a result that has aided the Anfield club's push up the division - they can prevent Manchester City from gaining ground on pace-setting Chelsea by scalping them at Old Trafford this evening.

Merson explained: "They tried to stop Liverpool the other weekend and got nowhere near it, so now they need to stop City. Fair play to them. Their confidence is up after beating Olympiakos and Wayne Rooney scoring that brilliant goal against West Ham United. You can tell from watching their movement off the ball that their confidence is up again.

"They have won two games on the trot, haven't let in a goal and you couldn't have asked for any more after the shocking loss to Liverpool."

Blighted by an injury to talismanic Dutch front-man Robin van Persie, who was fundamental to the club's progression to the quarter final in Europe, should not be seen as too great a disadvantage, Merson states, as City, also, have stars on the sideline.

:They haven't got Robin van Persie at the moment and that's big, but I'd say Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguerio are even bigger misses. They'd be the two players City don't want to lose in my opinion.

"I still think Man City go into the game as favourites though. Yes, Man United have had some good results, but you've only got to look at the Liverpool game to see why I am favouring City - and remember that David De Gea had to make some good saves against Olympiakos as well.

"Man City are at a stage where they have to win almost every game and I think they will just about do it. Don't get me wrong, Man United won't get an absolute run-around like they did against Liverpool but I think they will win this game."

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