Manchester City take on Manchester United at the Etihad stadium, in one of the most hyped, talked about and keenly awaited league clashes of the season. A number of people, including players, managers and experts have all chipped in with their views and opinions, ahead of this game.

The rivalry is all the keener because of the score the last time these two sides played - City completely destroyed their more famous rivals (who were reduced to 10 men) 6-1, in a game United boss Sir Alex Ferguson described as one his worst defeats ever.

Fast forward a few months and City, who were once eight points clear of United at the top of the table and cruising to their first Premier League crown in ages, are now the Manchester Club playing catch-up. The Citizens are three points behind the Red Devils.

However, Roberto Mancini's men, after that mid-season slump, have recorded three comfortable wins on the trot - over West Brom, Norwich and Wolves - and look ready to mount a desperate last-minute bid for the title. They will be buoyed by the fact they have a better goal difference than their rivals and should the two finish level on points, which is a real possibility, the advantage will prove the deciding factor.

In the other camp, despite Mancini claiming United were strong favourites to retain their crown this year and United going through a loss of focus and concentration - they come into the game on the back of a defeat against Wigan and a draw to Everton - Ferguson has stressed on the importance of this match, calling it "the mother of all derbies". A loss could be fatal for United, who are so very close to grabbing their 20th league title. However, a draw would also be a good result for Ferguson's men, as they already have a three point lead.

Team News

Manchester City go into this match at full strength. There is speculation whether Mancini will select controversial Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who did score twice in the 6-1 rout earlier in the season. However, the Italian has had an increasingly frustrating string of disciplinary problems, which culminated in a red card against Arsenal and is unlikely to be chosen, particularly given the form of Argentinean strikers Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tevez.

Manchester United, on the other hand, will be missing several players, including Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Anders Lindegaard, Federico Macheda, Paul Pogba, Michael Owen and Nemanja Vidic, due to various injuries. Ferguson will also have to decide whether he wants to play full-back Rafael after his disastrous performance against Everton. The 70 year old Scot has the option of bringing in Phil Jones or Chris Smalling in place of Rafael.

Match Facts

  • City have lost only one of 22 Premier League games at the Etihad this season.
  • In their 6-1 win over United earlier this season, City were dead accurate scoring six goals from seven shots.
  • However, at the Etihad, City have not been able to score against the Red Devils for nearly five years now.
  • Meanwhile, Manchester United have already beaten their City rivals twice, in the Community Shield match and the FA Cup third round, this season.
  • The Red Devils come into this game after scoring eight goals in their last two games against Aston Villa and Everton.
  • Last season, Ferguson's men lifted the Premier League title with only 80 points. If they manage to win all the remainder of their games this season then they will have 92 points, which will equal their best Premier League tally of all time.

Probable Teams

Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Y Touré, VBarry; Silva, Tévez, Nasri; Agüero.

Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Nani; Rooney, Welbeck