It's been a very rough road for David Moyes in his first season as Manchester United manager, a number of setbacks and damaging defeats leaving the current Barclays Premier League champions well adrift of where they want to be. However, a week is a long time in football and the past seven days have seen the Red Devils progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and consign a lifeless Liverpool performance to the past with a pretty authoritative league victory at West Ham. Momentum could be key here and victory over local rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford this evening will go a long way to helping Moyes redeem his battered reputation. But City have also got back on track after back-to-back defeats to Wigan and Barcelona and their focus will be on capitalising on the games in hand they have over current league leaders Chelsea. The reverse fixture at the Etihad back in September saw the home side run out 4-1 winners but one suspects tonight's encounter could be a shade more competitive.
David Moyes refused to reveal whether any of his injured centre-halves will be available for United. Chris Smalling (hamstring), Jonny Evans (calf) and Rio Ferdinand (back) sat out the 2-0 win at West Ham, but Moyes was giving no clues away regarding their fitness when questioned on the matter at his pre-match press conference. Winger Antonio Valencia (eye) is a doubt but defender Nemanja Vidic (suspension) and striker Robin van Persie (knee) are definitely unavailable.
Vincent Kompany will return from suspension to bolster City's back-line, with Joleon Lescott possibly the one to make way. The skipper sat out City's 5-0 thumping of Fulham at the Etihad Stadium after his sending-off in the previous week's win at Hull. City boss Manuel Pellegrini is still without hamstring injury victim Sergio Aguero while centre-back Matija Nastasic is also still unavailable due to a knee complaint.
Players to watch
Wayne Rooney stole the headlines at the weekend with two goals, including a stunning volley from just inside the West Ham half, but Juan Mata showed some very promising signs as he flitted between playing in behind the lone striker and drifting out to the wing. Mata didn't look a perfect fit for the United set-up when signed from Chelsea for a club-record fee of £37.1 million but the latest injury to Robin van Persie means the diminutive Spaniard could be seen to greater effect. We all know he's a class act having been one of Chelsea's standout players for the past couple of seasons and this could be his chance to stand up and be counted when his new club need him most.
Jesus Navas hasn't started for City since the lacklustre FA Cup quarter-final defeat at the hands of Wigan but he's been called upon off the bench in their last three games and could play a big role in this clash. David Silva and Yaya Toure are the obvious City midfielders to get on the scoresheet but Navas has six Premier League assists to his name this campaign, mostly as substitute, and his blistering pace might be able to unlock a weakened United back line, especially if called upon late in the piece as players start to flag.
The reverse fixture was all but over at the break as City came out of the blocks rapidly and took the lead in the 16th minute through Sergio Aguero. Yaya Toure provided the killer blow with a goal on the stroke of half-time before Aguero got his second just a couple of minutes into the second period and Samir Nasri made it four when rounding off a swift move. United managed to steady the ship as it looked like the score could have become embarrassing at one stage, before Wayne Rooney claimed a consolation just three minutes before time.
Do you remember?
Manchester United - Michael Owen
The 153rd Manchester derby at Old Trafford in the 2010/11 season was a memorable one, with former Liverpool hero Michael Owen scoring the winner deep into second-half injury time as United emerged 4-3 to the good. Owen featured 35 times for the Red Devils in total, scoring on five occasions, and often refers to this last-gasp strike as being a special moment in his illustrious career.
Manchester City - Shaun Goater
'Feed the goat and he will score' was a favourite chant among the Man City faithful after Bermudian international Shaun Goater became something of a legend following his brace against United in a 3-1 win in 2002. The final derby game to be played at Maine Road saw Nicolas Anelka and Ole Gunnar Sollksjaer find the net before Gaoter's two goals either side of the break - and a new hero was born.
City are the 23/20 favourites with Sky Bet to claim victory. United can be backed at 21/10 and the draw is available at 13/5. The Leeds-based firm also offer a range of Price Boosts on the match, including Juan Mata to score first at 12/1 out from 10/1 and Manchester City to win 2-0 also pushed out to 12/1.