The early kick off this weekend is one of the highest-scoring fixtures in Premier League history. Having previously shared title races and some of the most entertaining clashes the division has ever seen, there is plenty of motivation ahead of Saturday's meeting.
While Liverpool stutter in 7th place, the 'Sack Pardew' campaign is losing momentum at Newcastle, with the Magpies having turned their poor form around to embark on a run of 3 consecutive victories, including last week's impressive comeback win at Tottenham and a midweek triumph over the champions at the Etihad to progress to the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.
Liverpool have won 3 of their last 4 domestic games and will be hoping that Mario Balotelli's goal in the midweek win over Swansea will spark a run of goals for the Italian, who is yet to score from 32 shots in the Premier League for the Reds.
This will likely be a feisty affair at St James' Park, with the clubs' last 5 meetings having seen 6 red cards, 5 of which have gone to Newcastle players. Results have been fairly mixed, though, so with both teams' inconsistencies of late this one could go either way.
One of the less celebrated local rivalries in England pits the Premier League's two west London clubs against each other on Saturday afternoon, with vastly differing fortunes so far this season. Chelsea look like they are storming away with the title while QPR have taken only 7 points from the first available 27 and are second-from-bottom.
Chelsea's undoing last season was failing to win matches that they were expected to win comfortably, and there will remain a slight worry that they could be upset here against a team they lost to unexpectedly last time they met at Stamford Bridge. However, José Mourinho's team look more resilient this season and should put an end to their run of two games without scoring against the Hoops.
QPR will be without the suspended Rio Ferdinand who has already missed the past two matches, in which they have looked much-improved, running Liverpool close before beating Aston Villa last week. Averaging 13.6 shots per game, they do stand a chance of hitting Chelsea on the break, but their defence, the leakiest in the Premier League (18 goals conceded) is unlikely to hold out for long against the best attack (24 goals scored).
The first Manchester derby of Louis van Gaal's reign at Old Trafford promises to be another exciting one. These games are never anything but, really. There have been 34 goals in the last 8 meetings between the clubs and plenty of drama to boot.
The power shift in England's third city in recent years has been vast, with City now the stronger of the sides, and having won the last three games against their rivals, who have slipped dramatically since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, will be confident of making it 4 in a row.
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI
1/11 Goalkeeper - David De Gea
Manchester United might have conceded more goals than City (13 to 10) but De Gea hasn't been to blame. The Spaniard has been making crucial saves this season, such as when Eden Hazard got in one-on-one last weekend and his superhero-esque save late on against Everton. It's led to talk of a move to Real Madrid for the former Atletico stopper and sees him get in ahead of Joe Hart.
2/11 Left-back - Gael Clichy
Luke Shaw is starting to show glimpses of why United paid so much money for a 19-year-old, but not enough to be selected ahead of the much more experienced Clichy. The Frenchman is doing enough to keep out Aleksandar Kolarov more often than not and looks assured at the back and is always a threat going forward.
3/11 Centre-back - Vincent Kompany
Whilst Louis van Gaal struggles to work out what his best options at centre-back are, Kompany has been looking his usual assured self. The captain has been gobbling up strikers and continues to put in exquisitely timed tackles with incredible regularity.
4/11 Centre-back - Martin Demichelis
The Argentinian was something of a laughing stock last season but has now settled and continues to look like Kompany's best partner at the back despite the big-money arrival of Eliaquim Mangala. Demichelis has made nine appearances to the summer signing's six so far this season. Marcos Rojo would be the stand-out challenger from United for the position, but he doesn't look comfortable at centre-back and recent performances suggest he's at risk of ending up a bigger laughing stock than Demichelis was.
5/11 Right-back - Pablo Zabaleta
Rafael has been the regular starter at United when fit but the Brazilian continues to ask more questions than he answers with sporadic performances that at moments make him look like the next Gary Neville, but in others more like Phil at Euro 2000. That's why Zabaleta has little trouble being selected as our right-back.
6/11 Holding midfielder - Daley Blind
Manchester City provided three options for this position but none of them warrant a place ahead of Blind. Yaya Toure has looked nowhere near his best whilst Pellegrini can't seem to work out if Fernando or Fernandinho is a better option alongside him. Meanwhile Blind has made a great start since joining from Ajax. Sitting deep, the Dutchman's sharp passing provides the base for attacks whilst his even sharper tackling stops opponents in their tracks. His late equaliser in the 2-2 draw with West Brom proved he can operate further forward as well if required.
7/11 Midfielder - David Silva
The little Spaniard is a class act that would probably get in any side. An eye for a pass and ability to deliver it ensure he is always among City's chief threats from the centre of the park. His goal in the recent defeat to West Ham was pure class. Silva manages to keep his fellow Spaniard Juan Mata out of the side. The former Chelsea player has been decent this season but not done enough to ensure he should be a regular in the United side when everyone is fit.
8/11 Midfielder - James Milner
He's not the most fashionable player, but as The Independent's Paul Scholes wrote earlier this season, every team should have a Milner. Scholes said: 'I would say he is an excellent attacking player in his own right. Milner’s team-mates will be very glad to have him around, even if he does not always get the acclaim elsewhere.' The England international keeps Ander Herrera out, but only just because the Spaniard has impressed since arriving at Old Trafford.
9/11 Forward - Angel Di Maria
Manchester United paid a British record transfer fee to bring Di Maria in from Real Madrid and thus far he's looked worth every penny. The Argentina international has brought back that width and pace so much associated with United and despite concerns over his goalscoring record has netted three times in his seven games for United so far. Playing on the left-hand side, he keeps out Stevan Jovetic, despite the Montenegrin looking better than he ever has done since signing for City.
10/11 Forward - Sergio Aguero
Aguero or Robin van Persie? It'd be a nice conundrum for a manager to enjoy but based on the season so far, it goes to the Manchester City striker. The Argentinian has 11 goals from 12 games - despite only looking half-fit for most of it. Aguero is quite simply the best striker in the Premier League. In contrast, Van Persie has struggled this term despite the presence of his international mentor Van Gaal. His shirtless celebration after scoring a late equaliser against Chelsea showed his relief at getting back among the goals, and highlighted how frustrating a season it has been up to this point.
11/11 Forward - Wayne Rooney
Edin Dzeko has impressed in a City shirt this term but not as much as Rooney. And as well as keeping out the Bosnian, the Manchester United captain also keeps team-mate Radamel Falcao away from our combined XI. The arrival of the Colombian was supposed to signal the return of the good times at Old Trafford, but between being jet-lagged and not match-fit, Falcao has failed to make an impact with just one goal so far. In contrast, prior to his suspension Rooney had looked in strong form with six goals in 10 appearances for club and country. However, the temperament that got him a red card means the armband goes to the City captain Kompany in this XI.
However, City have won only 6 of their 15 matches in all competitions this season; a terrible return for a club of their riches and and a squad of their depth, even if they are competing on multiple fronts. United, on the back of a last-gasp equaliser to league-leaders Chelsea, and with their truly extraordinarily extensive selection of talented, attacking players they should find a way through a City defence that was scythed through all too easily by Newcastle in the week.
A United win would reduce the gap between the teams to only 1 point, but with City already 6 behind Chelsea, they cannot afford any more slip-ups and won't be in the mood for handing their fierce rivals any favours.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.
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