Moyes: We're ready for derby battle
David Moyes wants Manchester United to prove they are still a force to be reckoned with by beating Manchester City on Tuesday night.
City are big favourites for the derby at Old Trafford due to their higher league standing and the fact that United have struggled against the top teams in the league this year.
A 1-0 victory against Arsenal aside, Moyes' men have not beaten any of the sides in the top nine in what has been a truly disappointing maiden season for the Scot.
Moyes wants that to change on Tuesday though.
"We we want to try and perform better in the bigger games than what we have done," the United manager said.
"It will be important for us to show the level of what we have got.
"I think we have got the level and we are not as far away as many people would have us and I have no doubt it will improve. We want to show we are still in there fighting.
"We will do everything we can to win. We go out to win every game, not just the derby game.
"Obviously it means a lot more to the supporters and the city if you win a derby game."
United are 12 points behind City, and Manuel Pellegrini's men have played two less matches.
The Red Devils go into the match on the back of encouraging wins against Olympiacos and West Ham though.
United had to field Michael Carrick at centre-half at Upton Park because of injuries to Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand. Nemanja Vidic was also absent through suspension.
The United captain remains banned for the visit of City, but Moyes would not give away anything about the fitness of the three injured players.
"For this Barclays Premier League game we'll do everything we possibly can to get the [injured] players back," was all that Moyes would say when questioned on the matter at his pre-match press conference.
Winger Antonio Valencia (eye) is a doubt but defender Nemanja Vidic (suspension) and striker Robin van Persie (knee) are definitely unavailable.
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has denied his side will start as favourites when they head to Old Trafford looking to heap more misery on Moyes.
Pellegrini's men might be forgiven for swaggering across town with a mighty 12-point advantage over their rivals, and knowing another win will take them a big step closer to reclaiming their Barclays Premier League title.
But Pellegrini, whose first taste of the Manchester derby brought a thumping 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium in September, has moved to play down the suggestion that the balance of power is in the process of inexorably shifting to the light-blue half of the city.
Pellegrini said: "I don't think we are favourites in any game. We are in a good moment but we are playing against a big team in their own stadium, so I don't think we are the favourites.
"Of course we always expect to go and win every game but, I repeat, just because Manchester United have had a difficult season it does not mean we are going to win. We have to go there and play a very good game."
City's 5-0 stroll against Fulham on Saturday sent them back into third place, six points behind leaders Chelsea but with three games in hand.
And to add to Pellegrini's options he will have captain Vincent Kompany back to bolster his defence at Old Trafford after the Belgian sat out the win over the Cottagers as he served a one-match suspension for his sending-off at Hull.
Pellegrini is clearly anxious to avoid suggestion of the mind games which so frequently marked the build-up to this fixture when Sir Alex Ferguson was seeking to resist the rise of the so-called "noisy neighbours" in years gone by.
Referring to his side's win in September, Pellegrini said: "Of course it is a special match for the fans because they love winning against Manchester United, but for me all the games are special because you have to get three points.
"It is not my duty to analyse what David Moyes has done at Manchester United. I think everyone knows it was always going to be difficult for him to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, but I don't analyse what he's done."