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United preview

Where and when:
Saturday 9th December 2006, Old Trafford.

Current form:
United's results have been pretty impressive in general this season - in particular winning six of eight at home. They are ahead of Chelsea in the league (and could go nine points clear) and whilst not setting the world alight they are getting the job done - something which hasn't been the case for the past couple of seasons.

Given the recent away woes it seems strange we are now chasing back to back victories, and whilst we have had a couple of frustrating home draws of late we are at least avoiding defeat and look fairly tight in defence.

We all know how long it is since we tasted victory at Old Trafford but United have only beaten us once in the last five encounters.

Team news:
I expect no surprises from Stuart Pearce, with a safety first 4-5-1 employed - with the only decision on whether to bring Hamman into the midfield or push Richards in a more advanced role, with Corradi the lone front man.

For United, no real surprises in the key positions I imagine - with choices such as Evra or Heinze to mull over for Ferguson.

Keys to the game:
The biggest key for me is us handling United's midfield. We need to cut out the creativity of Scholes who has returned to the side this season following a long period out, and Giggs and Ronaldo will see plenty of the ball. Our right-hand side looks well set with Trabelsi and either Richards or Onouha, but Ronaldo on the right could have plenty of success against Vassell and Thatcher.

Corradi will have a thankless task and will probably not receive a great deal of support except from Barton and Vassell, so expect him to have drop deep time and again.

Our best approach could be down the flanks and in this respect I would be tempted to keep Richards at right-back for him to make his forays forward.

Why City will win:
Our away form is on the whole poor, whilst United's home record is on the whole pretty good. However, as mentioned previously we have a solid record against them of late.
We have to win there sooner or later don't we?

Why United will win:
Because we never win there. Previously, we have ground out draws and on occasion been unlucky not to get all three points but United this year seem to have an extra determination to fight Chelsea all the way and won't want to slip up.

United 0 City 0.