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Manchester United preview

Action from the Carling Cup semi-final earlier this season. (Picture from getty images)
Action from the Carling Cup semi-final earlier this season. (Picture from getty images)

Whilst a derby will always bring with it trepidation and a sense of unease, rarely can we have gone into one with such a confidence and position of strength.

Clearly our focal point at the moment is our attack. Fourteen goals in the past three games - albeit it against weak opposition - and importantly, we have the ability to score goals in succession (all three of our previous games saw us score three goals in under fifteen minutes).

Roberto Mancini has found himself with an attacking quartet in top form. Tevez, seemingly always playing with a point to prove, Adebayor, the ultimate confidence player in the goals, Bellamy, the chip on both shoulders driving him on and Johnson, the surprise package who is a threat playing on the off wing. We are well primed to take advantage of any weaknesses in United's defence.

Added to this, United's midfield do not look the dominant threat and lack the command they have shown in the past, whilst their attack looks toothless when shorn of Wayne Rooney.

Despite recent travails, United (represented here on SBNation by The Busby Babe) should not be dismissed. Having dropped points last weekend at Blackburn they are now faced with the prospect of a do or die game. With their title hopes slipping, a defeat on Saturday coupled with a Chelsea victory would be the knock out blow. It is therefore dangerous to write them off in such circumstances.

That said, we are fighting our own battle at the moment, one which intensified with Tottenham's surprise victory in the North London derby on Wednesday. Anything less than a victory could see us knocked off fourth spot. Wins are vital in order to maintain a cushion ahead of the increasingly important game on May 5th when we host Tottenham in what could well be a Champions League decider.

In terms of selection, Roberto Mancini has confirmed that both Wayne Bridge and Stephen Ireland are fit and whilst Bridge may well step into the side, Ireland will in all likelihood have to be content with a spot on the bench. Mancini though has indicated he will not be afraid to mix up his tactics if the situation demands - although to depart from the success the current 4-4-2 line-up has had would be a major gamble on the Italian's part.

The game will likely be played at a fevrish pace, which will suit our style of play far better. It is not often that this has been said, but I do feel the threat we carry looks to be too much for United to contend with.

A close game therefore. Hard fought and played with a real edge, but we will emerge as 2-1 winners.