With Manchester City facing a difficult tie against Chelsea this weekend, Manchester United travel to Queens Park Rangers. This weekend presents a massive opportunity for Manchester United to increase there lead over the champions, which currently stands at 12 points.
Although Sir Alex Ferguson's men recorded a 3-1 victory over QPR earlier in the season, the Hoops officially installed Harry Redknapp as their manager the day after. In his short spell at QPR so far, Redknapp has guided his side to a victory over Chelsea, whilst holding Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City to impressive draws.
QPR took the lead earlier on in the season, with Jamie Mackie breaking the deadlock in the 52nd minute. United however eventually came out victors. With Sir Alex Fergugson's men presented with the chance to potentially go 15points clear of Manchester City [as well as having no game till the 2nd March] Fergie will play a strong side to overcome this stubborn QPR team.
David De Gea will continue in goal for Manchester United. The Spaniard was unlucky to concede against Reading in the FA Cup, and his ever increasing confidence will be key in his own personal development as he looks to come to terms with English football. Anders Lindegaard has not played for United since the FA Cup Third Round victory over West Ham, with Fergie seemingly more interested in stabilizing his back four rather than giving both keepers experience.
The back four will consist of Rafael, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra. Rafael has come on leaps and bounds this season and has been one of the contenders for 'Player of the Season' at Manchester United. Jonny Evans will line up along side Nemanja Vidic in the centre of defence. The Northern Irishman is arguably the number one centre back at Manchester United at the moment, whilst club captain Nemanja Vidic is still short on match fitness. Patrice Evra will slot in at left back for United, although Alex Buttner had an impressive game against Reading in midweek.
After his FA Cup heroics, I hope Luis Nani is included in the starting line up for Manchester United this weekend. The Portueguse came off the bench and won the game for with a goal and an assist. Tom Cleverley had an impressive performance in midfield, and will be eager to return to the starting eleven. Michael Carrick has been 'Mr. Consistent' for United this season. His calm, authoritative displays in midfield have allowed Manchester United to attack and break teams down at their own pace. Shinji Kagawa will come in on the left with the opportunity to cut inside centrally. Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that Kagawa has struggled to adapt to English football, so experiences like these against the smaller sides will be vital as he looks to make his mark on the first team.
Robin van Persie has just one goal in his last 5 appearances in a Manchester United shirt, a somewhat goal drought by his standards! The Dutchman has been crucial to Manchester United's dominance this season with 19 league goals so far. Van Persie will look to get back on track with his goal scoring exploits against QPR, and in the process fend off Luiz Suarez for the golden boot award. Wayne Rooney was ruled out of the Reading game with what is believed to be a sinus infection and will remain sidelined for the QPR game. In which case, Javier Hernandez could be bought into the side. Despite having little game time this season, the Little Pea has 15 goals this season and will look to mirror his achievements in his debut season at United.
Sir Alex Ferguson has his eyes firmly set on the treble this season. Games like these against a QPR side desperate for survival can actually be the toughest of fixtures, but Fergie and his team will know that better than anyone.
Prediction: QPR 1 - Manchester United 3