United out to seal title against Bitter Rivals City

After one of the most humiliating defeats in their history, Manchester United have the chance to avenge the 6-1 mauling they suffered at the hands of cross-city rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford last season, and all but completely wrestle the Premier League trophy back from the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.

Sir Alex Ferguson has said he has never watched a repeat of that game saying: “Why would I? I am not into self-flagellation”. But what is clear is that he has got his team to exact revenge in the best possible fashion.

As victory on Monday night would put Ferguson’s men an incredible 18 points clear of City and leave them requiring just four more points to win the title from their last seven matches.

City's David Silva and Wayne Rooney fight for the ball
City’s David Silva and Wayne Rooney fight for the ball

Ferguson finally admitted himself this week that he knows the Premier League crown will be back in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet come May and is well aware of the significance that has for the club’s supporters.

“In the context of the kind of competition we have, teams from London – Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea – Liverpool and Everton, there are massive challenges every year,” Ferguson told United’s official TV channel.

“For every one of those teams, their supporters hope they win one trophy. We have won the one that really does matter to our fans.”

A 13th title in 21 years of the Premier League will taste even sweeter after City denied them on that incredible day of drama in the last minute of the last day of last season.

Eleven months on and City manager Roberto Mancini would not have expected to go into this game on the verge of surrendering the title. He has accused other Premier League clubs of not playing with the same intensity against United this season as they do against his City team.

“No one plays well against United because they only play with fear,” said the Italian. “Every team that plays against United plays very soft because they think this game is difficult, that they can’t beat them. It is not true.”

‘If you play strong against United, you can beat them. I don’t think they don’t play 100 per cent but their mentality is poor in those games against United.

“They think they can do nothing but instead I don’t think that is true. If you play with mentality, in football you can beat every team.”

Win or lose at Old Trafford, this will have to go down as a season of disappointment, but they still have a chance of silverware in the FA Cup and face a semifinal next weekend against Chelsea.

TEAMS NEWS

Wayne Rooney should return for Monday’s Manchester derby after a two-match absence with a groin strain.

Rafael has overcome a similar problem, but Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans are doubts with respective back and hamstring injuries.

Manchester City have no fresh injury concerns for their trip to Old Trafford.

Jack Rodwell misses out but should be available for the FA Cup semifinal with Chelsea next weekend.

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