The tension will be palpable in Manchester as City and United meet for the first time this season with considerable pressure on both sides to take all three points.
Having found themselves some nine points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea going into the clash and suffered consecutive defeats at the hands of West Ham United and then Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup, many tough questions have been aimed in City’s direction and there have been some suggestions that the current situation has turned into something of a crisis.
Manuel Pellegrini enjoyed a great deal of success last season, but if his side lose this he will come under immense pressure with another crucial game coming up in the Champions League in midweek as CSKA Moscow visit the Etihad Stadium.
The performances of Yaya Toure are continuing to attract criticism, while the matter of who plays alongside Vincent Kompany in central defence is becoming a major concern. To make matters worse, David Silva misses out here due to an injury he suffered against Newcastle, meaning the hosts are without their biggest source of creativity.
All of that said, they still have quality throughout the team, and Toure has the potential to bully a weak United defence, while the pace of Jesus Navas could also prove a major asset. Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero has a fabulous record in this fixture, and will relish the chance to torment the Red Devils again.
While they still come into this as underdogs, United will be determined not to drop yet more points, having only taken 13 from a possible 27 prior to this. Their last point was greeted with joyous celebrations as Robin van Persie netted the equaliser against Chelsea last time out in what was probably the best performance since Louis van Gaal took over as manager.
Angel Di Maria was kept largely quiet – an achievement by Chelsea which City will look to emulate – but overall they held their own against the Premier League’s strongest side, with Marouane Fellaini again delivering a strong performance which suggests he is finally finding his feet in a United shirt.
For this game they are boosted by the return of captain Wayne Rooney from suspension, and with the 29-year-old alongside the likes of Di Maria, Juan Mata and van Persie, United will feel that they can cause the home defence more than the occasional problem, but at the same time likely centre-back pairing Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling will require plenty of protection.
City are set to make several changes from the side which saw their grip on the Capital One Cup loosened, and Samir Nasri could make his first start since returning from injury.
Radamel Falcao is still missing for United, who could hand a return to Michael Carrick, but Antonio Valencia is fit again after injury.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Man