After a run of 29 matches unbeaten Manchester United finally came unstuck last weekend at Wolves and will hope to bounce back against ‘noisy neighbours’ City on Saturday lunchtime and maintain their title charge.
Indeed victory for the Red Devils will put them eight points ahead of their city rivals, having played a game less, and in all likelihood end Roberto Mancini’s hopes of landing the Premier League title.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted this is a “terrific” game for his side after defeat last weekend and having lost just once to Manchester City at Old Trafford since 1974, will hope that this is one run his side can maintain this weekend.
City Closing The Gap
Manchester City, meanwhile, are quietly maintaining their own title challenge and a win on Saturday would see them, temporarily at least, move second and just two points behind their rivals.
Last weekend’s win over West Brom saw a welcome return to form and after watching United’s unbeaten run end they will now hope they can inflict their first home defeat of the season.
To do so they will need to show more attacking endeavour than they did in the reverse fixture at Eastlands earlier in the season, and against Arsenal at the Emirates last month.
However, City possess one of the strongest front lines in the Premier League and one that certainly looks stronger on paper than the last City side to win at Old Trafford in February 2008, when goals by Darius Vassell and Benjani did the damage in a 2-1 win.
The hosts will again be without Rio Ferdinand after he picked up a calf problem last weekend therefore Chris Smalling or Jonny Evans will partner Nemanja Vidic at the heart of the United defence. Rafael should return, however, to take up his position at right-back.
As exclusively revealed by Goal.com UK on Friday, Darren Fletcher is a serious doubt after aggravating an ankle injury in training.
Elsewhere, Antonio Valencia is still a couple of weeks away from a return from his broken leg although Park Ji-Sung could be involved after returning from the Asian Cup.
Possible starting XI: Van der Sar; Rafael, Vidic, Smalling, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Scholes, Park; Berbatov, Rooney.
Micah Richards is still a doubt with concussion and the game may also come too soon for Mario Balotelli as he recovers from a knee problem. Midfielder Nigel De Jong could also miss out as he battles with an ankle injury.
Adam Johnson, of course, remains on the injured list and having been left out of the starting XI against West Brom last weekend, Edin Dzeko will be hoping to start at Old Trafford.
Possible starting XI: Hart; Boateng, K Toure, Kompany, Kolarov; Milner, Y Toure, De Jong, Silva; Tevez, Dzeko.
For more news on England, visit Goal.com's England section and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!