David Moyes' defending Premier League champions have won four in a row, including two straight league games to pull within eight points of leaders Liverpool and Arsenal. Meanwhile, Steve Bruce's Tigers have earned a point in each of their last three matches, drawing with West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City and Swansea City, to remain 16 points off the championship pace.
United will be without several key players again in Week 18, including Nani and Marouane Fellaini. The Portuguese winger has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, while the Belgian star is expected to miss significant time while he recovers from wrist surgery.
Keep in mind that the Red Devils are still awaiting the return of Robin van Persie (groin) and Michael Carrick (Achilles), who are both battling injuries of their own and nearing 100 percent physically. The last three Boxing Days in the Championship pitted the Tigers against Leicester, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United. Ten years ago, down in Division Three, it was a trip to York City in front of less than 8,000.
Now a festive campaign means dates with Manchester United and Liverpool. Enjoy it. Today’s game ought to be a belter. A City side beaten just once in eight home games this season may not get a better chance to topple Manchester United for the first time since 1974. That last victory at Boothferry Park saw the Tigers capitalise on a period of transition for the illustrious guests, with Tommy Docherty’s men down in Division Two, and the same cannot be ruled out this lunchtime.