"Beat City and we are title contenders"- so said Louis van Gaal after last week's win over Everton as we welcome cross-town rivals City to Old Trafford for the 170th Manchester derby.
Victory in this one would take United to the top of the table but City- after three defeats in six games last month- have rediscovered their swagger and firepower and come to Old Trafford off the back of a crucial late win over Sevilla in the Champions League in midweek.
Manuel Pellegrini's side head to Old Trafford minus their two key men- creator in chief David Silva and United's nemesis Sergio Aguero- but with talents such as record signing Kevin De Bruyne, midfield battering ram Yaya Toure and the pace and trickery of £49m man Raheem Sterling, they still have plenty of heavy weaponry at their disposal.
Van Gaal has some decisions to make regarding his selection: Juan Mata and Matteo Darmian were rested in midweek so both look likely to feature on Sunday, whilst Memphis, Daley Blind and Michael Carrick- all on the bench in Moscow- could also be recalled to the side.
Luke Shaw and Paddy McNair are the only injury absentees for us and Ashley Young is back in training but is not yet ready for a return.
Speaking on Friday, LVG said that the derby is "the talk of the town" and, when quizzed on who will start the match as favourites, the Dutchman added:
"You have to ask the fans, it's not so important who is the favourite, they are first in the table and we are second or third but I think the position in the table of the league does not matter when we play against Manchester City.
"I hope that we have recovered from Moscow as we have done everything to help the recovery.
"Although we don't train today we have to recover as it is a match at a high level so we have to cope with that.
"I live in a village and it is the talk of the town, we have to prepare our game, we have had one day less and more travel so it shall be more difficult but we will do our meetings in a shorter time and then we shall be ready to beat Manchester City."
A few things are certain: Form goes out of the window in the derby, it's either going to be tight, cagey and tactical or an end to end stormer (possibly all three) and, at full time, we'll see where abouts United are under LVG.
Form guide: United W W W L W D City W L W W W W
Match odds: 17/10 Draw 28/11 City 15/8 (Bet365)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
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