Manchester City have won the last four derbies, but Manchester United come into this highly anticipated latest instalment ahead in the table and in much superior form.
The home side are playing their best football of the season, and are no longer labouring to victory. That was proved last time out as they comfortably saw off an improving Aston Villa helped by an Ander Herrera double. The Spaniard has now become one of United’s most important players and his recent contribution suggests he could play a key part here.
Captain Wayne Rooney has a strong record in this fixture and is also in fine form, and he will personify the Red Devils’ hunger to win this one, having suffered so many disappointments against their rivals from across the city in recent seasons. Third in the Premier League and one point ahead, United are many people’s favourites to take the three points.
Defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday evening continued a terrible 2015 so far for City and left them in a hugely disappointing fourth place, all but out of the race to win the title. That means most of the pressure is firmly on their shoulders coming into this, with Manuel Pellegrini’s future as manager becoming an increasingly rife topic of debate.
The Chilean’s prospects will certainly not be aided by defeat here, so a return to goalscoring form for Sergio Aguero would be most timely, with the former Atletico Madrid star having gone on an uncharacteristic goal drought. In recent seasons, City’s main man at Old Trafford has been Edin Dzeko, who has scored braces on two of his last three visits.
Man Utd will still be without Robin van Persie despite his return to training. Jonathan Evans and Luke Shaw also miss out, while Chris Smalling is doubtful through illness.
Aguero and Dzeko are the only experienced strikers available for City with Wilfried Bony and Stevan Jovetic both sidelined. Captain Vincent Kompany will be assessed.
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