Manchester City vs Manchester United | Sunday 6th March 2022, 16:30 | Sky Sports
It’s derby day in Manchester, and by the time kick-off comes around, City’s lead at the top of the Premier League could have been reduced to just three points.
After defeat to Spurs, the Citizens bounced back to winning ways with a controversial 1-0 win at Everton. Then, they had a routine 2-0 win to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup in midweek – all while United had their feet up.
Ralf Rangnick’s side will be the fresher one. And they make the trip across the city on an eight-game unbeaten run (W4 D4) – the current longest in the league. Plus, it’s the Red Devils who have inflicted more home defeats on Pep Guardiola (4) than any other side.
The stars could align for United. They’ve won their last three at the Etihad in all comps. And this is the fixture that has seen the away team win more often than any other in the competition’s history (21).
Spurs have laid the plan for teams to follow when coming to the Etihad, so United will need to be brave and try to hit City on the counter, using the pace of Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford linking up with Cristiano Ronaldo.
They’ll have to be defensively as solid and compact as Spurs, but if they can do that is another question. If they do, then it opens an opportunity for a nice angle regarding corners. And that’s City -4 in the corner handicap at EVS with Sky Bet.
No side has taken more corners than Man City this season (233), which is an average of 8.6 per game. But it’s slightly higher during home games at 9.1.
Overall, City have taken five or more corners in 16 of 27 league games (60%) than their opponents. Once again, that figure increases to nine of 13 at the Etihad (69%).
These are the corner differences in those home games:
5 / 14 / 3 / 4 / 6 / 6 / 4 / 13 / 4 / 10 / 8 / 6 / 10
They have put the bigger teams to the sword when it comes to the corner handicap. In both games against Chelsea and Spurs, they had 5+ corners.
The Chelsea margins were eight and nine, plus they were eight and 10 against Spurs. While the 14 you can see was against Arsenal (14-0). At Old Trafford, when City ran out 2-0 winners, they took eight more corners than United (9-1), landing this line.
We know that Joao Cancelo goes marauding forward, as will the full-back on the opposite side – John Stones started in that position against Everton, while it was Oleksandr Zinchenko in midweek. And they’ve got Kyle Walker they could recall to the starting XI – not bad options to have.
United concede on average 5.8 per away league game compared to City’s 1.9 at home. The stats make the line look about right. But on their travels against the bigger clubs, United have lost the corner count 10-1 at Spurs and 15-2 at Chelsea. City could peg them back and make a mockery of this line.
Since Rangnick took charge, Arsenal (8-3) and Wolves (8-3) have both taken 5+ more corners than United at Old Trafford. While Southampton and Norwich have even managed to take more corners in their encounters. That 8-3 corner count against United does spring up a bit – that’s how it finished in Madrid during the 1-1 draw to Atletico with the Spanish club hitting the eight.
Given City played in midweek and weren’t all that convincing at Everton, I’m more than happy to skip over outright or match handicap markets, especially with Ruben Dias ruled out. Instead, plumping for the 4/1 on a Bernardo Silva card.
The Portuguese international has been booked three times in seven league games against United. Bernardo didn’t feature in either Manchester derbies last season but has been booked in the last two games at the Etihad. Plus, he was cautioned at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture.
With the way City can box teams in the fouls committed on them are more niggly. But when the opposition attack, any fouls tend to be more cynical to halt the attack. That’s why City most booking points could also appeal in this game.
And when you look at Bernardo’s three cards in Manchester derbies, he’s been shown them in the 33rd, 22nd and 58th minutes. ‘They’re early’, I hear you say!
Well, two of those have seen him be the first player to enter the referee’s notebook. And Michael Oliver who booked him at Old Trafford in November is in charge here. Sadly, the reverse fixture saw him as the second player to enter the book behind team-mate Joao Cancelo.
But there are quotes of 18/1 (Bet365) on Bet365 for Bernardo being the first player to be booked. And that’s landed twice in his last five starts in this derby, so might be worth having a small play on just in case he commits an early counter-stopping foul.
In terms of Oliver’s Manchester derby record, he’s taken charge of five – City winning four. He’s shown 4, 6, 2, 6 & 3 cards in those games. A bit of a mix with him only showing one red in that run, which was to Chris Smalling in the 14/15 season.
Oliver has taken charge of three Man City games this season with Cancelo and Aymeric Laporte both being booked twice. So, he’ll have their card marked early in this one.
But for me, City should dominate the corners handicap, while the tidy but busy Bernardo could overstep the mark in another derby.