Manchester City can take a major step towards securing Premier League title glory if they can inflict more misery on Manchester United in Wednesday’s pivotal derby.
Pep Guardiola’s side can move a point clear of Liverpool at the summit of English football with just three games of the season left with a win at Old Trafford.
Sections of United’s support would rather neighbours City win the title at the expense of arch-rivals Liverpool, who will be hoping for a major favour from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in their quest to end their 29-year wait for a league trophy.
That would require a sudden improvement from a United side who are ending the season in truly wretched form, however.
After a run of five defeats in seven, Solskjaer’s side slumped to their biggest defeat of the season on Sunday after they were taken apart by Everton at Goodison Park.
The Norwegian has made it clear that everyone within the squad is now fighting to save their future at the club. A response is needed.
Luke Shaw is available again after a two-game domestic ban which will almost certainly see a reshuffle at the back. Phil Jones is likely a doubt after limping off at half-time in that 4-0 defeat to Everton.
A shake-up in attack could be considered given the thoroughly dismal showings in red in recent weeks. Alexis Sanchez remained on the bench against Everton but offered a bright cameo off the bench against Barcelona following his recent injuries.
Solskjaer’s has been glowing in his praise of 17-year-old Mason Greenwood again, a player he insists will be given the opportunity to shine while he is in charge.
Anthony Martial could be among the clutch of players at risk of losing their place after his anonymous performance against Everton – just days after his manager name-checked him among the group who simply must offer more.
Ander Herrera, Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia have been recent absentees with the United boss expected to provide an update on the trio in his press conference on Tuesday.
City’s biggest concern is Kevin de Bruyne who is set to miss the derby due to a muscular injury suffered in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Tottenham. It is the third injury the Belgium international has picked up this season.
Fernandinho has started City’s last two matches on the bench after missing out completely against Crystal Palace but could return to the starting XI at Old Trafford.
Manchester United XI: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, McTominay, Matic, Pogba, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku
Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho, David Silva, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Aguero
Source: Evening Standard