Sunday's Manchester derby has added significance as City are playing really well and they are the current league leaders. Fergie has finally acknowledged that Manchester City along with Chelsea, are a major threat to United's domestic dominance.
United are of course at home where they have a superb record at Old Trafford, but over the last month the champions have been less than impressive both at home and away.
United squandered a two-nil lead against Basel in the Champions League and in the end could only manage a 3-3 draw, thanks to a late equaliser from Ashley Young. Norwich City were the last visitors to Old Trafford, but the champions 2-0 victory was anything but comfortable.
There has been much chopping and changing in the United team over recent weeks, largely due to a catalogue of injuries and this in part has led to a lack of continuity, especially in the heart of the defence.
Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have both been out of action having endured lengthy spells on the sidelines. United's Serbian defender made a welcome return to action against Galati in Bucharest on Tuesday night in the Champions League, but he was sent-off in the second-half as United ran out deserved 2-0 winners on the night, albeit thanks to yet another disjointed performance. Vidic didn't look 100% match sharp, he somewhat uncharacteristically gave the ball away on a couple of occasions and his performance will have given Ferguson something to think about ahead of the derby. The same applies to Rio Ferdinand who has been singled out for criticism unfairly by sections of the media following a run of relatively poor performances by the Champions.
There's no doubting that United will need to be at their defence best against City, anything less will lead to probable defeat, however, while fingers have been pointed at one or two individuals, we have to remember that defending is a collective responsibility and so whoever plays in midfield must ensure they too fulfil their defensive obligations. From an attacking perspective, it is vital that Rooney and Co. convert any goal scoring chances that come their way.
United are currently the team with the most goals for at home in the division, and City are the team with the most goals for from away games. It could be a real cracker and Mancini has hinted his team will attack United.
United have no new injury worries and many fans are hoping that Tom Cleverley will return to the team after recovering from a foot injury, but he's been out for several weeks, so a place on the bench is probably the best we can hope for.
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