When Manchester City took on their city rivals at Old Trafford in October 2011, Roberto Mancini’s men stunned football to romp home with a 6-1 victory and move five points ahead at the top of the Premier League table, where they would remain at the end of the season to take the title ahead of the Red Devils by the slimmest of margins.
Indeed, it was only this time last year when the two sides faced off at the Etihad Stadium in what was billed as the biggest game in Premier League history. Victory for Man Utd and a 20th league title would be all but secured. However, thanks to Vincent Kompany’s first-half header, City drew level on points with Sir Alex Ferguson’s men and crucially, ahead of them on goal difference with only two games left to play, the margin that would eventually prove to be the difference.
This time around, a United victory at Old Trafford would take them a mammoth 18 points clear of City with only 21 points left to play for. It has been a timid title defence from the Citizens, one that was perhaps decided when Samir Nasri ducked out of the way of Robin van Persie’s injury-time free-kick to give United a 3-2 victory in the reverse fixture between the two sides in early December, leaving United six points clear at the top of the table.
For City, this match represents an opportunity to regain some city pride while also the chance to continue building momentum ahead of their Wembley FA Cup semi-final date with Chelsea next week. For United, with their double dreams now over and the title firmly within their grasps, manager Ferguson will be keen for them to finish the season as strongly as possible and potentially even break Chelsea’s record for the most points won in a Premier League season.
The Scot could recall Wayne Rooney after the England striker missed the last two matches with a groin strain. Rafael is also fit after shaking off a groin injury of his own but doubts remain over central-defensive pair Nemanja Vidic (back) and Jonny Evans (hamstring).
The visitors continue to be without Micah Richards and Maicon due to knee complaints but welcome back Matija Nastasic, who had been suffering with a foot injury. David Silva and Samir Nasri are also fit while Jack Rodwell (hamstring) could return soon.
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