London – David Moyes is confident Manchester United have found form in time to win the Manchester derby after a make-shift side won comfortably at West Ham on Saturday.
Manchester City will arrive at Old Trafford on Tuesday 12 points ahead of the hosts, who were beaten 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium in September in Moyes' first derby assignment as Alex Ferguson's successor.
City thrashed Fulham 5-0 on Saturday before United's 2-0 win at West Ham, which saw Wayne Rooney score both goals – the first one from almost 60 yards – and Michael Carrick play as an emergency centre-half.
Both sides will be missing top-class forwards on Tuesday as City's Sergio Aguero is injured, as is United's Robin van Persie, but Moyes could also be without key defenders through injury as Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling were ruled out of the West Ham game.
Moyes, who will be able to welcome back captain Nemanja Vidic following suspension, was nonetheless hopeful victory in east London, which followed an aggregate win over Olympiakos in the Champions League last week, would be preparation enough for such an important game.
“You can see that we are playing better and there is a bit more belief coming back,” he said. “We will have to keep showing that if we can.
“We scored three at West Bromwich, against Olympiakos we scored three and we've got a couple today so we are showing signs of doing better.
“If anything they picked up on that performance in midweek. A lot of players who had been given opportunities earlier in the season and hadn't done as well as they would have liked, I thought they played very well.
“It's great for me because it makes the job much easier when you know everyone is ready and available to play – and we are going to need it with the amount of games in the coming weeks.”
Rooney's opening goal was an eye-opener as he lofted the ball over home goalkeeper Adrian from fully 60 yards.
“It was a great goal by a top, top player with great technical ability,” Moyes added. “The only worry was whether it was going to bounce under the bar or not.”
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, who has now seen his team lose their last three games, insisted the wonder-goal should not have stood.
“It was such a wonderful goal from Wayne Rooney early on but it was a bit of a sickener because I thought it was a blatant foul on James Tomkins, who was easily going to head the ball away,” he said.
“Wayne Rooney took him off his balance when he jumped so he missed the header.
“So technically the referee has made a big error because the opposition have scored from that error.” – Sapa-AFP