Having spent a large part of the season flitting between sixth and fifth in the rankings, Jose Mourinho's men now have two realistic avenues into the Champions League next season.
United will take on Celta Vigo in the semi-final stage of the Europa League, having overcome Anderlecht in the previous round, with a place in Europe's premier competition secured if they lift the trophy.
A top-four finish now looks likely, however. With Liverpool stuttering, United's 23-game unbeaten run has now put them in a position to jump above both their closest rivals into third place.
MAN UTD INJURIES
United are amidst somewhat of a defensive crisis at present.
Marcos Rojo suffered a knee injury during the club's European meeting with Anderlecht, leading to him being stretchered off midway through the first half, and will miss the rest of the season.
Fellow central defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are also doubts ahead of Thursday's derby clash, though Mourinho may well be forced into involving one of the two due to their desperate situation.
Elsewhere, Juan Mata will also miss out after being ruled out for the season following groin surgery, while Ander Herrera's ankle knock picked up against Burnley may also force him out.
Paul Pogba limped off in the 2-0 win over Burnley and could be rested.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not feature again this season having picked up a knee injury during the meeting with Anderlecht.
MAN UTD SUSPENSIONS
With the latest Premier League yellow card amnesty having passed, both teams are well in the clear when it comes to suspensions. Besides any red cards accrued between now and the season's end, only players who have been booked 15 times over the course of the campaign can now be handed a ban.
MAN UTD POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Ibrahimovic's injury means Rashford will likely continue in a central role up front while Daley Blind is set to remain alongside Eric Bailly in defence.
Elsewhere, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini are likely to start in the central midfield positions, should the former overcome his ankle issue, with Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ashley Young in front.
MANCHESTER CITY TEAM NEWS
Pep Guardiola's City line ups have been almost impossible to predict during his time at the Etihad, with a number of players taking up unfamiliar roles as part of the Catalan's vision.
Gabriel Jesus could return to the bench on Thursday, while captain Vincent Kompany is set to start his third game in a row as John Stones recovers from injury.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
The last time these two sides met on a Thursday in the Premier League was in November 1994, with Manchester United winning 5-0 thanks to an Andrei Kanchelskis hat-trick.
Jose Mourinho has failed to win any of his last four Premier League games against Manchester City (D2, L2) – this after winning six successive top-flight encounters with the Citizens between December 2005 and February 2014.
Pep Guardiola could become the fourth manager to win both home and away Manchester derbies in a debut top-flight season after John Bentley, Sven-Göran Eriksson and Manuel Pellegrini.
Aguero has scored eight goals in 10 competitive appearances for Manchester City against Manchester United but has failed to score in his last two games against them.
Only Alan Shearer (190) has scored in more different Premier League games than Wayne Rooney (149 – level with Frank Lampard & Andrew Cole).
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
The game at the Etihad kicks off at 20:00 UK time, with live television coverage on Sky Sports 1 in the UK.