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The Manchester Derby preview

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Manchester City vs Manchester United

Wednesday 10 November 2010 | 20:00 GMT

SIR ALEX FERGUSON admits Man City have now replaced Liverpool as his Manchester United side's most bitter derby day rivals.

The Red Devils head across town to Eastlands tonight aiming for three precious points as they bid to reel in Chelsea at the top of the table - but knowing local bragging rights are now of equal significance.

It means gaffer Ferguson's old adage of Liverpool being United's true derby-day opposition no longer applies.

With Sheikh Mansour's wealth at their disposal, City now represent a far greater threat to their neighbours' aspirations than the old foe from Merseyside.

And with Carlos Tevez around to stir the pot as well, there will be plenty of heat to keep a capacity crowd warm.

Ferguson said: "The Liverpool game is one of honour in terms of trophies won.

"Liverpool edge it in European Cups while we have the advantage in FA Cups and World Championships.

"We are undoubtedly the two most successful clubs in British football.

"Now the meetings with City are ones of great intensity, which is built up by the media explosion around what they are doing and what they are trying to achieve.

"The fact we are both in the same city means there is an incredible intensity in this derby game now, which was not there 10 or 15 years ago."

Despite the huge amount of petro-cash that has poured into the Blues camp from Abu Dhabi, it is still United who hold sway.

They emerged victorious in three of the four meetings last term, including the Carling Cup semi-final, and are leading the pursuit of Chelsea just now, three points ahead of Roberto Mancini's men.

Had it not been for their weekend win at West Brom, City would be heading into the contest amidst renewed speculation over their manager's position, placing question marks over the belief money will one-day drive the Eastlands outfit on to the title.

Ferguson said: "It is difficult to say whether it is inevitable they are eventually going to win the league.

"In many people's eyes, having the money is a lot better than not but this is still a very difficult league to win. And City certainly recognise that themselves."

As Ferguson is rather fond of repeating, Sunderland's reputation as the Bank of England team in the 1950s did not do them much good and more recently Newcastle and Leeds dive-bombed spectacularly after spending vast amounts in search of Premier League success.

Ferguson said: "Look at some of the results at the weekend with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham all losing, that tells you all you need to know.

"If clubs have money and want to spend it, they will. It is not an unusual thing. It is a fact of life.

"The only difference is that City is an untapped well at the moment."

Ferguson knows he can't hope to compete financially, yet still seems able to unearth treasures such as Javier Hernandez.

Hernandez seems certain to gain his first Manchester derby experience given the virus that has ripped through the squad.

Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic are just five of the senior players who have been struggling.

It could also become a fixture notable for the absence of Ryan Giggs.

Since the veteran was credited with his first goal in United colours in May 1991 evergreen winger Giggs has not missed a derby meeting.

His appearance record of 33 is a figure that may never be broken.

Yet, barring a miraculous recovery, the 36-year-old will miss tomorrow's game.

Ferguson, who also revealed that Nani is highly unlikely to be involved against City as he struggles with groin strain, said: "Ryan will be disappointed but he is out."

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