IT'S the Manchester derby on Saturday evening as City welcome United to The Etihad. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets from the Premier League encounter.
Manchester City v Manchester United | Saturday 7th December 2019, 17:30 | Sky Sports
The second big derby of the week comes at The Etihad as champions Manchester City hope to build on their impressive midweek showing at Burnley by dispatching a Manchester United side who will be confident after they ended Jose Mourinho’s honeymoon period at Spurs on Wednesday.
The Red Devils impressed on the eye and their intensity was excellent at Old Trafford with Marcus Rashford playing a starring role with two goals and a smash against the woodwork from the England man. Rashford is finding form, and the fact he managed to be the star performer without Anthony Martial playing must hearten Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The United youngster is starting to take a bit more responsibility, and given the fact that no player in the Premier League has averaged more shots from counter attacks, he is bound to be a threat for the visitors here.
United to sit deep and narrow
It looks like that will be the modus operandi for Solskjaer here, I highly doubt his side will press high. I’d expect a low block and a congested middle third to stop City playing centrally through the lines, forcing them wide. United reverted to a narrow formation against Spurs out of possession and it largely worked; it would be a shock if they didn’t try to recreate such a system here. Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof may welcome a high volume of crosses from City with their height advantage over the City attackers.
City are so good with the one-touch ‘forward-back-forward’ passing manoeuvres. Quite often you’ll see a defensive midfielder or centre half fire in a hard and low ball into the striker who lays it back off to a midfielder who in turn plays a through ball to a wide forward. Naïve defences can get caught out with this and concentration has to be kept to an optimum. United will have to be disciplined and not get dragged out of position or the likes of Raheem Sterling could get in behind and cause damage.
If United are sat deep then the hosts will have to rely on the ingenuity of David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to try unlock the defence, something the trio are more than capable of. De Bruyne is probably my favourite player in the league; his eye for a pass and the pace he puts on his passes, crosses and shots is unbelievable.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Belgian had a few shots from outside the box – this market isn’t priced up at the time of writing but is something that will be available on Coral closer to kick-off and is worth keeping an eye on.
Cards to flow with Taylor in charge
One market I’m keen to get involved with is the bookings. Anthony Taylor has the whistle for this one and he’s changed tact this season and started dishing cards out all over the shop.
Taylor has given out 63 yellows and two reds this season in 13 games, an average of 5.00 cards per-game! That would be about average in someone like Spain or Italy but any average over four is high for England. In his last eight games he has given 6, 6, 6, 7, 6, 8, 5 and 8 cards – maybe been given a rocket from that PGMOL to stop being lenient as he wasn’t a ref associated with high card counts until this season.
Given the added spice that this is a derby match I cant ignore the odds-against offering of 11/10 on Both Teams To Collect Over 1 Card on Bet365’s Bet Builder. Man Utd are averaging 2.13 cards and City 2.00 cards per-game – with those stats, the referees stats, and the fact this is an intense rivalry, I think this bet represents a good thing at odds-against.
Corners can be king
Following on from how I expect the game to pan out, the ball will largely be in the visitors half of the pitch and with City likely to probe constantly then they should get a few corners. City -4 on the corner handicap is 5/6 but we can get a bit more juice out of that and back effectively the same bet but in the Asian market if you plump for -4.5 at 1.90 which is obviously 9/10 in decimals and a better price for the same bet.
City love to rack up the corners. Their dominance means this is no surprise and they average a whopping 8.93 per-game whilst only conceding 2.60, meaning they average 6.33 more corners than their opposition. For this bet to land we need City to have five or more corners than United, and although that threshold looks high, it tends to land more often than not, particularly at The Etihad.
Finally, I’ll also have a small play on the 3-1 correct score at a chunky 11/1 with Bet365. This scoreline copped in this meeting last year and I can’t back City to keep a clean sheet in their current guise. City have won by this scoreline thrice this season and it looks like a good price at double figures.