Both clubs in the first edition of the 2013-14 season's Manchester derby are enduring managerial changes, but United's slightly superior talent and form entering this fixture will allow them to beat City at Etihad Stadium.
There is reason for uncertainty on each side, as the Red Devils' David Moyes is taking over for the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson while City's new manager Manuel Pellegrini is succeeding Roberto Mancini.
Neither have gotten off to particularly phenomenal starts in the English Premier League, but the defending trophy bearers have matched the Sky Blues' seven points through four matches despite a more difficult schedule.
A favorable slate of games have given City the opportunity to jump out to a better beginning in the Pellegrini era, but they have failed to capitalize.
In losing 3-2 at Cardiff City, an EPL newcomer, and drawing at nil to Stoke City—who finished 13th in the table last season—Pellegrini's bunch has not lived up to expectations in the current campaign.
There is still plenty of room to improve, but this marks City's first true test. The advantage of playing on their home pitch will be neutralised by the fact that United not only has superior personnel, but also has had to face the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool early on.
In drawing the former match and losing the latter to the Reds 1-0, United at least showed signs of promise despite the current flux the organization is in.
With all of that said, both City and United had impressive victories in the Champions League in their recent fixtures, where their previously stagnant offenses showed signs of life.
The attack is where the Red Devils have a distinct advantage, though. It lies in the combination of Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, who have combined for 28 goals in 23 EPL starts together, according to BBC Sport.
City can't boast such a dynamic duo, and they will be relying heavily on captain Vincent Kompany's return to boost the defense.
As reported by The Guardian's Jamie Jackson, Kompany is embracing the challenge, but he might be careful what he wishes for since Rooney in particular has been hot recently:
You want to play against top players at their best. That's how I feel about it. I always want to play against players when they are at their best. I'm really happy for Wayne that he's on top form. This is the great thing about the Premier League, you play against top strikers all the time. But there are many players to watch out for in both teams.
Stopping both Rooney and Van Persie is going to be a rather tall task, especially if dynamic Red Devils winger Danny Welbeck is able to suit up for the visitors.
According to Goal.com's Paul Clennam, Welbeck participated in full contact training on Friday, which makes him available and suggests he's fit enough to be a prominent contributor.
This is going to be a hotly contested showdown as it always is, but last season, each team won at their archrival's grounds. The trend will continue as United find a way to get a critical three points early on to establish early momentum against a marquee opponent.
Prediction: United 3, City 2
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