DERBY host Manchester United on Thursday night in the FA Cup 5th Round. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) delivers his betting analysis.
Derby v Manchester United | Thursday 5th March 2020, 19:45 | BT Sport
It’s the final tie of this midweek round of FA Cup fixtures, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes his Man Utd side to a sold-out Pride Park.
The dilemma for the Norwegian is how they prioritise this competition. With the top four now within reach and the Europa League offering a backdoor into the Champions League, then this might be bottom of the list. After steamrolling Tranmere in the last round, it’s a clash with Championship opposition for the Red Devils, who’ve won 45 of their 46 games against lower league sides in this competition.
Derby will go all out. They’re in no danger of the drop and the play-off’s look too distant, so Philip Cocu’s side can take a proper swing at this. And that could make it quite an open game, as they look to replicate their victory over the Red Devils in last year’s League Cup.
Rams resilient at home
If the Championship table was based on home form, Derby would be third behind Fulham and Preston. They’ve only lost twice here in the league in 18 games, and both of those defeats came by the odd goal.
With such a strong home record and the chance to reach an FA Cup quarter-final, it’s a perfect chance for Cocu to fully win over the Rams faithful.
Wayne Rooney will play a big part against his former club and playing that freer role allows him to float – to pick up the ball in pockets of space and creating opportunities for his teammates.
The big decision for Cocu comes up-front. Will it be Martyn Waghorn or Chris Martin? The former has 12 league goals, while Martin assisted all three goals in their 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Tom Lawrence scored twice in that game and he’ll be pivotal once more. The Welshman has four goals in his last six games, so he’s one to look out for in the shots markets – he averages 2.6 per game in the second-tier and 1.9 of those come from outside the area.
The Manchester derby is on the horizon, so you have to expect United to rotate. That could mean the likes of Odion Ighalo, Diogo Dalot, Sergio Romero and Jesse Lingard will appear in what is likely to be a heavily rotated team. Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah both returned to action for the U23s on Monday night, so may feature as back up on the bench.
It could be a first taste of the FA Cup for Bruno Fernandes. The all-action midfielder has impressed since joining the Old Trafford club. He’s got three goals and two assists in all competitions, plus has recorded 16 shots in four Premier League appearances.
While trying to unpick player markets, it’s difficult to get a full gauge on how Solskjaer will go with Manchester City on Sunday, so the team news will be crucial.
The betting angles
I’ll start with a bet at a shade above evens in the Asian Handicap market – and that’s Derby +1. This is priced on it being Championship v Premier League and the recent improvements being made by the visitors. But I doubt that the Rams will get blown away on home soil. Their record at Pride Park in the league reads W9-D7-L2 – so this looks worthy of a punt.
Add in the fact that Man United have only won five away games from 18 in the league and Europa League, then something pro-Derby looks fair enough.
This +1 on the Asian Handicap is 42/41 with Bet Victor and will be a winner if the hosts either win or draw. If they lose by one goal, the bet is void, but they lose by two or more, it’ll be a loss.
I was considering Both Teams To Score at 4/5, but there’s a stats-based bet that looks more enticing in the corner market.
In 14 of 18 Derby home games in the league, they’ve taken five or more corners – that’s 78%. The Rams to get 5+ with most bookies is odds-against – Sky Bet 11/10, Bet365 6/5 and Betfair are the biggest I could see at 13/10.
At Pride Park, they average 5.8 corners per game and when you see the figures against some of the stronger Championship sides, they’ve hit this mark. They got 6 here against West Brom and 11 v Fulham last time out.
Man United do concede corners. In six of their last eight top-flight away games, they’ve conceded five or more, albeit some of those games have been against the cream of the crop. In their FA Cup games so far, Wolves took 8 and 5 in the two ties, while Tranmere even managed 4.
Derby players do like to have a pop from distance, and if Chris Martin starts, they’ll be looking to get the ball into the box with the full-back’s offering support out wide.
So, until team news comes out to support any player markets, I’d take these two odds-against plays.