Manchester United face reigning champions Manchester City at Old Trafford in the Manchester derby on Sunday afternoon.
The contrast in form between the two teams could not be bigger.
Manchester United have won five out of their last six games in all competitions, including five straight Premier League victories.
City on the other hand have suffered four defeats in their last six games in all competitions, including last time out with a 2-1 defeat at midtable Crystal Palace.
They say form goes out of the window when it comes to derby matches, well City will be hoping there is a lot of truth in that saying, because quite simply they are woefully out of form.
The character of the City players has been questioned in recent weeks. Nothing will test their character like a trip to face their local rivals. This could be a good or a bad time to face Manchester United, especially at Old Trafford.
The City players could shrink and hide, but they could also raise their game because it is such a big game for the club. This game is a time for Manchester City’s players to stand-up and be counted.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini is under major pressure from the City hierarchy and a defeat against the Citizens closest rivals could make those questions about his ability to manage City grow even further. With question marks over his City future this could be his last ever Manchester derby.
The statistics show that Manchester City have had the upper hand in recent derby games, as the Citizens have claimed four consecutive victories over the Red Devils in the Premier League. City have never claimed five consecutive league victories against the Red Devils and it would give Manuel Pellegrini’s side a major boost for the rest of the campaign.
As so often in these local derbies in recent years, this game could have massive implications at the top of the table. The two teams may not be fighting for the Premier League title, but the fight for positioning in the top four this season is still massively important.
It looks like the Premier League title has got away from the pair and to finish as high up in the Premier League table as possible is now their primary aim this season.
The Manchester United players will head into this game highly-motivated and fired-up. They will be determined not to lose this game and create a bit of unwanted history in the process. United captain Wayne Rooney will be especially fired-up for the clash.
At times the England international can lose his head and do silly things, but he does really raise his game in big games. There will be no player out there on the Old Trafford pitch who will be more up for this game than Rooney.
United will head into this game just a point and one place above City in the Premier League table. A Red Devils victory would give Louis van Gaal’s team a major advantage in the race to clinch an automatic Champions League spot.
Manchester City look mentally shattered at the moment, so a derby defeat could see Pellegrini’s men start to look over their shoulders at the likes of Southampton, Tottenham and Liverpool.
They should have enough quality to remain in the top four of the Premier League, but cannot afford many more slip-ups this season.
Both teams are in need of a victory as the chase for an automatic Champions League spot heats up. The Manchester derby usually brings drama and excitement, tomorrow’s is unlikely to much different.
Who will come out on top in the Manchester derby?
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