Monday evening brings the Manchester derby, the first at Old Trafford since the infamous 6-1. United are looking to do the double over City and all but clinch their 20th title, whilst City are looking to build some late season momentum and shorten the 15 point game between themselves and United.
With the Premier League the sole competition left on the table for United now, Sir Alex Ferguson can select pretty much whatever team he wants for each game remaining.
Rafael da Silva One of Rafael’s best games this season was at the Etihad, and he may be required to join in with attack to give United another dimension on Monday.
Rio Ferdinand Central defence is likely to be made up of two from Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans. The experience of Ferdinand is likely to be chosen.
Nemanja Vidic Captain Vidic is likely to partner Ferdinand as Evans recovers fully from a niggle.
Patrice Evra Evra is perhaps one of the few certainties to start this game ahead of his nearest competitor Buttner.
Michael Carrick The 31-year-old will need to be quick-witted and sharp just as he was at the Etihad earlier in the season. Carrick’s playmaking and defensive positioning will need to be at their best.
Ferdinand and Vidic at centre back will sit deep to secure against any exposure of pace whilst Carrick and Jones will be doing their up-most to shut off spaces for City’s creative players. Carrick and Jones may also be key and breaking up play and kick starting attacks, whether that be by spreading play or surging forward themselves (one can imagine a lung-busting Jones run up the field).
Perhaps the real key for United in an attacking sense will be out wide. The selections of Valencia and Young will help protect against City’s full-back threats, better than say Shinji Kagawa would, but they could also be vital in a counter-attacking sense as they were earlier in the season at the Etihad.
Rafael and Evra at full-back will need to be energetic in getting forward to expose any space left by City’s narrow wingers, but will also need to be wary of the tendency of City’s strikers to run into the channels and behind the full-backs.