THE headline match of the weekend brings together the two Manchester clubs. How does Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) see it going?
Manchester United v Manchester City | Sunday 16:00 | Sky Sports 1
Cast your mind back three months. Sunday January 11th. Manchester United had just lost 1-0 to Southampton and sat 10 points and two positions behind neighbours Manchester City. If you’d asked for odds on Louis Van Gaal’s side to be ahead of Manuel Pellegrini’s in the table by the next time they clashed in April, you would have got a juicy price.
But, of course, that’s the position we find ourselves in before this Old Trafford meeting. Since that loss, Manchester United have won eight of their 10 Premier League games, while City have won four with the same number ending in defeat.
United were fairly unconvincing in the first half of those band of matches but since mid-March have really stepped up a gear with beefy wins over Liverpool and Tottenham responsible for birthing a new vibe over the club.
It’s the opposite pattern for City with the second half of that 10 game series responsible for destroying their season. Incredibly Burnley and Crystal Palace have both beaten them in the last month, something that would have been unthinkable before Christmas.
Factor in the fact that Manchester United have picked up more home points in the league this season than any other club (40 out of 48) and the 17/10 on them winning looks positively massive.
But surely there’s a responsibility on their neighbours ahead of this match on Sunday? They’re very much aware that they’ve massively underachieved this season, but losing to Burnley and Crystal Palace is one thing, meekly surrendering to Manchester United is another.
I’m not sure it’s an overstatement to suggest that if they lose heavily here and show no spirit then the team will die. Die in the sense that their manager will leave in a few weeks and a number of their senior players will surely follow suit. It would be much easier to shove the likes of Toure and Kompany out the building if they show no fight here in this vital fixture.
I’m willing to believe that City will show some fight here and make this a match. Let’s not forget, their first 11 is far superior to their hosts.
I think (and hope) this could be a goal-laden game. City’s determination to show some pride will come up against United’s excellent home record and we may see a few goals.
City have scored 23 times against their neighbours in the last three and a half seasons, averaging over 2.5 goals per game. Shove that alongside the fact that United have gone Over 1.5 Goals in nine of their last 10 Premier League games at Old Trafford and goals look tangible.
While goals are my focus, it’s United who definitely represent the value from the two sides. With that in mind I’ll back them to win and both teams to score and throw in an outlandish punt on Over 4.5 Goals. Crazy eh? But then, so is the fact that United lie above City in the table!
Manchester United v Manchester City – Manchester United to win and both teams to score (4/1 William Hill)
Manchester United v Manchester City – Over 4.5 Goals (11/2 BetVictor)
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