THE EFL Cup semi-finals takes centre-stage this midweek. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets from the first leg of Manchester United v Manchester City on Tuesday night.
This match-up has a lot riding on it.
Pep Guardiola will know the title is pretty much out of sight now and with tricky tie against Real Madrid in the Champions League this could be their best shot at silverware this season. On the other side, a trophy on the CV of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be a welcome shot in the arm for the Norwegian, who still has a few doubters, to say the least.
One could say that Manchester United are City's bogey side of late and a lot has been made of that. However, in their last two trips to Old Trafford the Blue Moon have come out victorious on both occasions. They're rightful 4/6 favourites here, in my opinion, especially given the injury dilemma at United.
No fewer than 10 players are unavailable or a doubt for the Red Devils; Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial were ruled out at the weekend due to illness whereas Harry Maguire picked up a knock and Luke Shaw is also not 100% fit. Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba are also still out which leaves them very light in the middle of the park. It looks like Fred will be partnered by Nemanja Matic or Andreas Peirera.
It would ideally be a game where Solskjaer would field three central midfielders in the hope to suffocate City but the options aren't plentiful. They were happy to sit off an hit City on the break at the Etihad in December and it worked a treat. United had just 28% possession in that game but were much more incisive and clinical when they got the chances.
United had just 28% possession in that game but were much more incisive and clinical when they got the chances. Click To Tweet
However, it's much easier for them to set up like that as the away side, it suits their style to a tee. At home they may feel at liberty to have greater dominance and that could ultimately be to their detriment.
If you back solely on the data then you'd have probably lost money backing Manchester City this season, they're still the top dogs when it comes to Expected Goals (xG) and xG from open play. It's their defensive lapses that has cost them dear and ultimately ended their title chances early.
The good news is that Aymeric Laporte is coming back from a long-term lay off and the transfer window is now open if Pep feels he has shop around for reinforcements. Laporte won't be ready for this one though so youngster Erik Garcia could be favoured once more.
Marcus Rashford was the Man of the Match in the last meeting and i'm sure United fans will be pinning their hopes on the England international to do more damage here. However, I just see a real gulf in class between the two here and with the mounting injury list at Old Trafford and the quality of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and co it could be a long night.
City are a bit too short to put up outright but chuck Over 1.5 Goals in alongside an away win and we get a nice 19/20 quote with Betway.
There were also a few cards in the last meeting between these two rivals and given the added magnitude of this being a crunch semi-final, we could see some more. City struggled to cope with the pace of United on the break and are the most cynical in the league when it comes to fouling and therefore cards. The away side will have to cope with a whole host of tricky players too.
Both sides are averaging two cards per-game as it is in the league and we can get odds-against on Both Teams Over 1 Card on bet365’s BetBuilder and that’s looks a nice play. This bet has landed 4 of the last 5 meetings between the pair, including that cup tie late last year.