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city there for the Taking

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is confident that the Red Devils will meet cross-town rivals Manchester City at just the right time in tomorrow's derby

United appear to be on the up but the same cannot be said for their 'noisy neighbours' five miles across town.

Manuel Pellegrini's team stretched their winless streak to three matches on Wednesday when they were knocked out of the League Cup by Newcastle.

And you get the impression Van Gaal thinks City, who are four points above United in the table, are there for the taking.

"It is not the greatest moment of Manchester City,'' he said. "What we have seen of Manchester City in the last matches was not so good. We have a good feeling about this match.''

Tensions have run high in the build-up to the clash but Van Gaal insists his players must not be overcome by emotion tomorrow afternoon.

He added: "We don't have to accelerate this feeling because it is football and you have to play the game, not only a game with emotion but also in a tactical way.

"For me, I have to analyse and prepare for the games in the same manner (as the other matches).''

With Radamel Falcao out because of an injury he sustained in training, Wayne Rooney will take centre stage up front in a fixture he loves this weekend.

Rooney has scored 11 goals in 21 Manchester derbies, so Van Gaal is delighted to have his captain back.


The United manager thought about reminding Rooney of his status as this fixture's record scorer, but he quickly decided against it.

He is convinced his captain needs no motivation to put on a stellar show this weekend.

"I have heard that also he has scored a lot of goals against Manchester City, the most of any player,'' said Van Gaal of Rooney, whose most spectacular strike against City came in February 2011 when he produced a stunning overhead kick winner.

"I said that to him to stimulate him but he doesn't need that. I am very happy that he can play again and he shall play.''

The news regarding Colombia striker Falcao was not so good, however. "Falcao is still injured,'' Van Gaal added.

The absence of the Colombia forward is a blow to Van Gaal, but he is fortunate to have other players coming into form at the right time.

Adnan Januzaj played superbly against Chelsea last weekend and Robin van Persie will take confidence from bagging the injury-time goal which handed United a vital point against the league leaders.



Newcastle v Liverpool, 12.45 (bt Sports 1)

Stoke v West Ham, 3.0 (Setanta sp 1)


Man City v Man Utd, 1.30 (Sky Sports 1)

Aston Villa v Tottenham, 4.0 (Sky Sports 1)


Crystal Palace v Sunderland, 8.0 (Sky Sports 1)