WILL Dyer (@w2dyer) previews the Manchester derby, a tie that could have huge ramifications in the race for the top four.
Manchester City v Manchester United | Thursday 20:00 | Sky Sports 1
The weekend passed confirmed that Pep Guardiola would be trophy-less in his first season in English football after Manchester City were knocked out of the FA Cup in extra-time by Arsenal. The Citizens started the game odds-on to win.
Now the Sky Blues face their city rivals in a game that Pep could really do with winning, after United dumped them out of the EFL Cup in their last meeting. The Manchester derby also gains importance for both teams now as they sit side by side in the race for the top four.
United left it late to qualify from their own extra-time encounter last week, beating Anderlecht 2-1 to progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League. Unfortunately though, Zlatan Ibrahimović sustained a torn ACL and will likely never play for the Red Devils again.
Life After Zlatan
Man United would have had a very different season without the mercurial Swede; he scored 28 goals in all competitions and provided 11 assists but it would appear that now is an excellent opportunity for Marcus Rashford to step up to the plate and fulfill his undeniable potential.
The England youngster has already proven himself in big games, scoring against Arsenal (twice), Chelsea and Man City. The problem United have is that they also have a few others missing for this tie; all of Chris Smalling, Marcus Rojo and Phil Jones are sidelined whilst Paul Pogba is a new doubt.
It leaves the Red Devils fragile at the back and having to field a centre back duo of Daley Blind and Eric Bailly. Nevertheless, they have shown throughout the season under Jose Mourinho that they have the ability on their travels to frustrate the opposition and keep things tight in big games, most notably in the 1-1 draw at Anfield. A hallmark of Mourinho’s style.
Firing On All Cylinders
Both David Silva and Sergio Aguero are expected to recover from knocks in time for the derby, whilst Fernandinho is 100% fit again. Whether or not John Stones returns is unsure but with Captain Fantastic, Vincent Kompany, back at the helm it doesn’t really matter. Altogether City are nearly full strength.
The contrast in injury problems between the sides probably explains why City are a best price 10/11 to win the game. After a bit of historical research, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the shortest they’ve ever been to beat their cross-city rivals.
The Citizens have been favourites on multiple occasions in recent years but never odds-on. They have kicked-off at Even money three times previously, with a record of W2-D0-L1 and despite their perceived superiority over United in recent years their record in the derby is only W4-D1-L3 since Alex Ferguson stepped down.
City were the better side at Wembley on Sunday but we’ve seen this time and time again, they still have a lot of work to do under Pep and I just can’t have them odds-on to beat a team that has lost just three times in the league this season.
Manchester United have W2-D2-L1 of the last five meetings between these sides as well, which further points towards value on the visitors. I’ll back them +0.5 on the Asian Handicap at 11/10 with BetVictor, a bet which is exactly the same as a wager on ‘X2’ in the ‘Double Chance’ market.
Manchester City v Manchester United – Manchester United +0.5 Asian Handicap (11/10 BetVictor)
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