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English Premiership

United momentum building at right time

MANCHESTER, May 9 – Manchester United are five games away from an historic season and veteran winger Ryan Giggs feels Sir Alex Ferguson's side are hitting form at exactly the right time.FERGUSON AND RONALDOWith the League Cup and the Club World Cup already won, United can look forward to a Champions League final against Barcelona on May 27 and need seven points from their last four games to secure an 18th English Premier League title.

Sunday’s derby with Manchester City will be their 63rd game of the season but after their back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and Fulham in March, United have responded with an impressive run of form.

They have won five matches in a row going into the game with Mark Hughes’ team at Old Trafford.

While United are on course for more silverware, City’s expectations have increased considerably since they were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group in September and they are continuing to battle for a Europa League place.

Despite being well into the 10th month of their campaign, veteran Giggs thinks United’s energy levels are high.

Giggs said: "At this part of the season you want to be involved in big games all the time – and we are.

"We have another one on Sunday against Manchester City but it is not something we should be complaining about.

"We just have to get ourselves ready and on Sunday we will be. I hope we are hitting form at the right time.

"The manager always knew we would need a big squad because of all the games we might have to play. Now he is using it."

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United will be without Wes Brown, who has been out since January with a foot injury, for the rest of the season but Gary Neville could return after a short spell on the sidelines with a similar problem.

Ferguson could also call on Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov and Paul Scholes for the game against their local rivals.

The United manager agrees that his side are peaking when it really matters.

He said: "The team has just come into top form at the right time. I’d like to say it was my preparation, but it’s not. I think the players smell the big games well.

"They like those situations, they’ve proved they can handle them and we’re so close now."

Hughes thinks his City team are feeling the benefit of their UEFA Cup run ending last month.
Argentinian utility man Pablo Zabaleta could return from a hamstring problem and the England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips may also earn a recall after an ankle injury.

And even though United are on the verge of retaining their Premier League and Champions League trophies, the City manager thinks it is a good time to be facing his former club.

He said: "We’re on a nice little run, four games unbeaten, and as I have said all week you have to go to Old Trafford with a lot of belief and confidence.

"That’s what we have, we’re playing well and winning games. We’re looking forward to Sunday, we’re in decent shape and if ever there was a time for us to go to Old Trafford, it’s now."

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City midfielder Stephen Ireland is adamant that, having won away in the derby last season, Hughes’ team will not be intimidated by visiting their big rivals and are desperate to make up for their 1-0 defeat at Eastlands in November.

He said: "When you think about the build-up to the game all you have to do is go back to last year and think about how positive it was.

"With the performance last season and how we are playing at the moment, we have to be confident.

"I’m really looking forward to it, the derby at our place was a real disappointment, but on Sunday it will be electric and it will be up to us to dictate the tempo.

"We have a better squad than last year, the players on the bench are really hungry to get in."

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