United were heading eight points clear at the Barclays Premier League summit when Everton were being beaten 4-2 at Old Trafford but the Toffees' remarkable comeback crucially saw two points dropped. Only one goal had been conceded in the previous seven league matches, Wigan's winner at the DW Stadium, and the setback allowed Manchester City to move within touching distance with a straightforward 2-0 win at relegated Wolves. The Blues have bounced back from dropping points in three successive games to rattle in 12 goals in three games.
Ins and outs
There's speculation that Jonny Evans is a doubt but the only confirmed absentees are Darren Fletcher, Paul Pogba, Anderson and Nemanja Vidic. Sir Alex has some difficult decisions to make with derby veteran Ryan Giggs probably in his thoughts and Chris Smalling's muscle may be called upon at the back. Danny Welbeck and Nani promoted their claims for a start with outstanding performances against Everton. City have no injury worries with Micah Richards expected to be fit enough to return to the defence and Roberto Mancini has a wealth of options in terms of how to cram his expensive acquisitions into only 11 spots. Mario Balotelli is available after suspension and his manager says he's considering a recall for his fellow Italian.
After the 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford, when a late collapse handed City a major boost in terms of goal difference in the title race that could yet prove critical, United went to the Etihad Stadium on a mission in the FA Cup third round.