Mark your calendars for one of the biggest matches of the Premier League season. Manchester United play host to the reigning English champions at Old Trafford on Sunday. In this Manchester derby, we can expect a lot of sparks as both these teams are competing to stay in the top four.
Manchester City were title contenders a few weeks ago, but they have struggled quite a lot in the last few games. After losing six of their last twelve fixtures, the Citizens are in danger of slumping out of the top four. After the weekendís loss to the Eagles at Selhurst Park, City are now fourth on the league table, seven ahead of the fifth place Liverpool.
On the other hand, Louis van Gaalís Manchester United is in scintillating form. The Red Devils have won five fixtures in a row after the loss to Swansea City. Spurs and Brendan Rodgersí Liverpool have been the victims of newly revived Manchester United. United are still mathematically contenders for the EPL title, but a top four finish would be a realistic target for the Dutch manager. The momentum is with the Reds as they take on Pellegriniís men on Sunday. If United wins this fixture, it will be a huge step in their attempt to get back to Europe.
In a recent interview, LVG stated that his club has improved since the loss at the Etihad in November. Man United have certainly become hard to beat and their form at Old Trafford is quite impressive.
"It was another Manchester United [last November], I believe," Van Gaal told reporters. "That was more in the start of the process and now we are in the end of the process.
"Now we have developed the team. I think also the confidence of our players is very high at the moment. Our performances show that, so itís not the same Manchester United."
Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany believes that the derby couldnít have come at a better time.
"A derby is a derby," said Kompany. "It doesnít matter what place you are in the league, itís a derby. If anything, itís a good moment to go into a derby. I guess the momentum is a little bit with our neighbours at the moment, but itís the perfect place for us to go and try to rectify what weíve had."
Kompany is already also looking to next season. "My only concern is we get back to our best form," he said. "I think itís our general form that we have to improve. Iíve learnt from the past seasons as well that finishing a season strongly can have an impact on your next season as well. In some funny way, it wasnít even a bad game [against Palace].
"We are demanding with ourselves because we have to win, but you guys saw it. Did they have a shot on goal except for set-pieces? They are definitely a solid team. They are definitely a team who knows how to defend. They had a game plan so credit to them but, for us, it wasnít a bad game in comparison with other games that we might have lost. It has a bit of a different feel to it maybe than the result at Burnley. But a team like us needs results."
According to Bet365, Manchester United are 6/4 to pick up all three points, while they are offering 23/10 in case of a draw. A City win is 15/8.