Man Utd: will City derby end in humiliation or redemption?
The odds are stacked against United, but it could be their last chance for glory this season
MANCHESTER UNITED'S roller-coaster season, which has seen many more downs than ups, is sure to take a fresh turn tonight when local rivals Manchester City visit Old Trafford, and the smart money is on another chastening setback for David Moyes.
Manuel Pellegrini's team, still in contention for the title, will be hot favourites to overcome Moyes's struggling side. The Scot, whose job was widely believed to be in jeopardy after defeat to Liverpool, secured his short-term future with a fine European comeback victory against Olympiakos last week and an assured win over West Ham at the weekend.
But memories of the drubbing at the hands of Liverpool and the derby annihiliation by City earlier in the season will not be far from the surface at Old Trafford. And United fans will be on edge for they know that the ground that used to be known as the Theatre of Dreams has now become a cauldron of nightmares.
United have taken only half the points available to them at home this season, and they have scored a feeble 18 goals in the process. City have scored ten more than that on their travels, and will expect to add to that tally.
The Citizens are 12 points ahead of United and have two games in hand – a statistic that does not bode well for an even contest, even taking into account United's last two games.
"The trouble with the current United, however, is that they only ever look one defeat away from fresh disaster and it’s hard to escape the feeling that if City arrive with the throttle open they may just burn the house down," says Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail.
Running the rule over the two teams, Oliver Kay in The Times is struck by the disparity in midfield. "Both defensively and moving forward, the Yaya Toure-Fernandinho axis has looked much more effective than the far less mobile and yet more brittle Carrick-Fellaini partnership," he says.
And while City's midfielders have been scoring with ease (Toure has 16 goals this season), "United's lack of Premier League goals from midfield has been an embarrassment". And that lack of cutting edge will be even more acutely felt with Robin van Persie out with a knee injury.
But even though the odds are stacked against them, the Daily Telegraph notes that the visit of City and the chance of a derby win "offers Moyes's players their best hope of redemption in the remainder of this season". It would certainly give the United faithful something to cheer about.