WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) is back for another Premier League weekend. This time he takes a look at the mammoth Manchester derby on Saturday lunchtime, a game that sees Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola renew their infamous rivalry.
Manchester United v Manchester City | Saturday 12:30 | Sky Sports 1
The first of hopefully many Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho Premier League showdowns. Both teams come into the game on the back of perfect starts with nine points out of nine recorded.
A quick glance of the league table and we can already see an indication that United have a better defence but City have the better attack. The Red Devils have only conceded one goal in three games but scored only six compared to City’s nine scored but three conceded.
I’m finding this game very hard to predict, derbies notoriously are, and at the current prices I don’t think I can confidently back any of the match odds outcomes.
Sergio Aguero’s absence has obviously played a big factor in the perhaps inflated price of Manchester City. Had he not been suspended for this game I think we would have seen a market closer to 7/4 for either team winning but instead United are 11/8 and City as big as 12/5.
For the majority of the Premier League era this has been a goal-laden game; 20 of the 31 meetings between these clubs from 2000-2013 saw both sides score with 17 of those going Over 2.5 Goals.
However, those stats have gone out the window in recent seasons. Only one of the last five meetings have seen both sides score. Add to this the new managers and it’s perhaps not best to go off previous head-to-heads.
A lot of how this game plays out will be down to the manager’s styles. Both Pep and Jose have rather prominent styles in how they approach football matches.
Guardiola is known for dominating possession through short but swift passing plays which also involves exploiting the wings, whilst Mourinho prefers to build from a supremely solid defence and a midfield with a high work rate and a lone striker.
The absence of Aguero will likely mean that Pep opts for a 4-3-3 of Nolito, Kelechi Iheanacho and Raheem Sterling as a three-pronged attack. It also means that the goal-scorer markets have been blown wide open with only Zlatan Ibrahimović priced under 7/1 to notch first.
It’s well known that Zlatan has a problem with scoring in big games at club level. In the 22 Champions League appearances throughout his career that he played English clubs he scored only six goals, although his most recent one did come against Man City for PSG in the quarter finals in April.
That’s an average of less than 0.30 goals-per-game. Compare that to his scoring record in general which is 0.60 goals-per-game.
Ibra’s record in France is impressive against pretty much everyone but looking at other teams on the continent it’s not so stellar; two goals in 12 games against AC Milan, one in nine versus Juventus, one in seven against Bayern Munich and one in six against Real Madrid.
There’s simply no way I can back him to score first at 4/1 or anytime at a best price of 8/5. This does however give us value elsewhere.
Marcus Rashford banged in a hat-trick for the England U21’s against Norway on Tuesday night. I expect Mourinho will start the teenage superstar on the bench and bring him on later if the game is hanging in the balance.
Three of Rashford’s six Premier League goals have been the last in those respective games; that includes his Manchester derby debut last season in which it was the only goal and United’s last Premier League game at the KC stadium two weeks ago.
I’ll back the 18-year-old to make another outstanding contribution on the big stage via the Last Goal Scorer market at 7/1 with Betfair.
Two of the last seven Premier League meetings between the sides at Old Trafford have seen Both Teams To Score in Both Halves land. During that stint we’ve also had the memorable 6-1 win for Robert Mancini’s City back in 2011 so this has been a venue for action.
I’m not particularly confident that the bet will cop in this meeting but purely for value’s sake I’m backing it to happen again at a chunky 18/1 with Skybet.
David Silva, like Raheem Sterling, looks a player rejuvenated under Pep Guardiola. That should see him play with a bit of swagger on Saturday lunchtime.
Silva scored both of Spain’s goals in a friendly in Belgium 10 days ago and bagged another double against Liechtenstein on Monday night. 5/1 at Bet365 on the Spaniard scoring looks juicy.
It’s early days, and neither side has been tested yet, so I’m just going to have these three smallish plays on the game and sit back and enjoy what should be an almighty showdown both on and off the touchline.