This season may not have gone to plan at Old Trafford for David Moyes, but Tuesday night’s Manchester derby gives United the chance to restore some pride and claim the bragging rights until next season.
But in order to do that, the champions will need to overcome a Manchester City side who have overwhelmed a host of Premier League sides this season.
Manuel Pellegrini has enviable quality at his disposal in a number of areas and, as a result, the Etihad Stadium outfit dominate our combined Manchester derby XI.
Nevertheless, our goalkeeper comes from the red side of the Manchester divide. David de Gea has conceded more goals than Joe Hart this season, but has been called into action more often, featuring in more games and making more saves than the England No.1, who came in for scrutiny earlier in the season.
|DE GEA V HART
|2013-14 PREMIER LEAGUE STATS
At right-back, the ever-dependable Pablo Zabaleta gets the nod ahead of Rafael after another season of consistent performances. The Argentine became one of the first names on the team sheet under Roberto Mancini and remains a regular fixture with Manuel Pellegrini at the helm.
And, despite often bearing the brunt of criticism levelled at his side, Martin Demichelis makes our combined XI alongside Vincent Kompany. At 33, the centre-back has featured more regularly than Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott, while his Belgian captain has returned to the fold after injuries.
The back four is completed by Patrice Evra. There are question marks surrounding the future of the experienced left-back at Old Trafford, but he continues to demand a place in Moyes’ side, while Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov vie for a starting spot at the Etihad.
The heart of the midfield is made up of two of City’s standout performers this season. Fernandinho has quickly emerged as a fans’ favourite at the club since arriving from Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer.
The Brazilian’s industrious yet classy displays have allowed Yaya Toure to flourish. The Ivorian has netted an unprecedented 20 goals in all competitions this season, in an area where his opposite numbers at Old Trafford have struggled to make an impact.
There is room, however, for Juan Mata. The former Chelsea midfielder is yet to hit top form since making a £37.5 million move in January, but the Spain international impressed against West Ham and could continue to profit from a slight tactical reshuffle in the absence of Robin van Persie.
Another City pairing completes the front three behind the striker. David Silva has scored five goals and picked up eight assists in 19 Premier League starts this season, while Samir Nasri has looked rejuvenated under Pellegrini.
With Van Persie and Sergio Aguero both set to miss the derby through injury, only one man can really lead the line in our combined XI. Alvaro Negredo has impressed in his debut season at City and Edin Dzeko remains a goal threat, but Wayne Rooney has previous in this fixture.
The England international scored a sensational overhead kick in a 2-1 victory for United in February 2011, and his audacious lob against West Ham at the weekend suggests there could be more to come from the striker.