If Liverpool beat West Ham United on Saturday, they would close the gap in the Premier League title race to three points having played as many games.
If United were to beat City at The Etihad the following day, Liverpool’s title fate would be in their own hands.
It’s a big if, though, as United caretaker manager Ralf Rangnick faces his biggest test since arriving to replace the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
While United are unbeaten in their last eight league games with the German, only one coming against a top-six side, four ending in draws, including a 0-0 draw at home with relegation-threatened Watford last time out. , and the fans are still fighting. to craft a recognizable style of football.
City, while suffering a problem in a 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in their previous home game, have won 15 of their last 17 Premier League games and allowing United to sabotage their title hopes is unthinkable.
United won their last league visit to The Etihad nearly a year ago, though that 2-0 win merely set back City’s procession to a third title in four years.
Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw were on target that day and Fernandes has raised the stakes ahead of Sunday’s clash, especially with United’s hopes of a top-four finish on the line.
“It’s one of those games where we know what it means for the city, for the fans, for the club and for ourselves,” he said. “It’s a match we want to win at all costs.”
United sit in fourth place but their hold on the final Champions League qualifying spot is precarious.
They have 47 points from 27 games, two more than fifth-place West Ham United and sixth-place Arsenal, but Arsenal have three games to go and are in the driving seat.
Arsenal play at Watford for an early start on Sunday when a win would seriously increase the pressure on United.
Liverpool have won their last 11 games in all competitions, clinched the League Cup last weekend with a penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea and will be optimistic ahead of West Ham’s visit.
The relegation battle continues at the weekend with bottom side Norwich City desperate for a win against a Brentford side that have fallen into the danger zone.
Brentford sit in 15th place but have lost seven of their last eight league games and defeat at Norwich would leave Thomas Frank’s side in real danger of undoing all their early season promise by being relegated.
Burnley, who missed a chance to escape from the bottom three midweek when they lost at home to Leicester City, host third-placed Chelsea knowing a point would put them above Everton, who face at Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.
Leeds United, another team in danger of being dragged into the relegation zone, start life after Marcelo Bielsa with a tricky trip to Leicester City on Saturday.
The new American coach, Jesse Marsch, will have to get going to reverse the club’s depression.