With the race to see who will finish in the Premier League's top four this season hitting fever pitch, GMS contributor Joseph Stuart looks at key players who could be instrumental to the chances of both Manchester clubs retaining their Champions League status next season.

With the fixtures becoming increasingly important, vital points up for grabs differing league form effecting various teams, who will make the Champions League spots from the Manchester area?

Manchester City - 2nd Place on 53 points

Key Players: Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Sergio Ageruo, Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo 

Captain, Vincent Kompany will hopefully stay fit for the rest of the season because whether on the pitch or not his presence is always felt. The Belgian is a towering figure in the back line and is a true leader. Yaya Toure has shone this season in Manchester City's free flowing attacking style, the Ivorian has scored 12 goals this season, while picking up four assists and has played his part in keeping seven clean sheets.

Midfield colleague  David Silva will also be crucial to City's success because for all these goals to be scored you need someone to create the opportunities, and the Spaniard has already managed to do that on eight occasions this season.

Now to the main men, the forwards. Excluding Stevan Jovetic, all of City's strikers will be vital to qualifying for the Champions League. With 31 goals and 17 assists between them, Aguero, Negredo and Dzeko will need to continue banging in goals if the club are to remain in first place and qualify for next year's Champions League. 

With 12 games unbeaten and 8 consecutive victories including a 6-3 win over Arsenal and a 5-1 demolition of Tottenham, Manchester City looked in terrifying form before hosting Chelsea on Monday night. City now play Manchester United at home and also meet, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton away in their remaining fixtures this season. 

Possible Points: 35 points from 45 available 

Manchester United - 7th Place on 40 points

Key Players: Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie

Although out due to minor injuries on numerous occasions this season, United captain Vidic will want to be on the field encouraging his team game after game to really push for a top four finish. The Red Devil's most consistent defender this season has been Patrice Evra, and that's why he will be very important for the rest of the season, the Frenchman has helped keep eight clean sheets.

New signing Juan Mata looks to be everything United needed. A creative genius sitting behind the striker, on his recent debut he set up Robin Van Persie to give United the lead in their 2-0 win over Cardiff. United hopefuls will be looking for Mata to give the Red Devils that spark they've been waiting for. With the attacking duo of Rooney and Van Persie back from their respective injuries if they can find the form that they showed last season United surely have a great chance in securing a top four finish. 

The reigning champions have won five and lost three of their last 8 league games, although two of those defeats came against fellow top four contenders Tottenham and Chelsea which will set them back in their pursuit of Champions League football. Last year's Champions await away games against Everton and Arsenal as well as home games where they host Manchester City and Liverpool. 

Possible Points: 37 points from 45 available 

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