Manchester United could leapfrog Premier League leaders Manchester City by taking all three points when they host their local rivals on Sunday (14:00 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
United have made a very solid start to the season and come into the derby on the back of four wins, one draw and one defeat in their last six matches in all competitions. They are third in the Premier League table with 19 points from six wins, one draw and two defeats.
Louis Van Gaal’s side secured a 1-1 draw from a pretty drab Champions League encounter away to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. Their hosts took the lead 15 minutes in on the rebound from a saved penalty, only for Anthony Martial to make amends for stupidly conceding it by converting an Antonio Valencia cross to level just past the hour mark.
The result came just a few days after Man Utd’s 3-0 win away to Everton that itself served as a strong riposte to their 3-0 defeat to Arsenal prior to the international break. It has been that sort of start to the campaign for Van Gaal’s side, who have improved from last season but have not yet provided convincing evidence that they are ready to challenge for the title.
The arrivals of Bastian Schweinsteiger (pictured) and Morgan Schneiderlin have allowed Van Gaal to regularly employ two screening midfielders in front of his back four, which has led to greater defensive solidity. At the other end, Martial has come straight into the side and added a more direct threat to their attack. Yet both Arsenal and Manchester City currently look a little better.
Van Gaal will definitely be without the injured Luke Shaw (broken leg), while Ashley Young (knock) and Patrick McNair (abdomen) are also likely to play no part in proceedings.
Man City have started the season well and come into the derby on the back of five wins in their last six matches in all competitions. They top the Premier League table with 21 points from seven wins and two defeats.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side came back from a goal down to record a 2-1 win at home to Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday. They quickly levelled through an own goal after their visitors had taken the lead on the half-hour and then weathered a couple of difficult spells during the second half before emerging victorious thanks to Kevin de Bruyne’s late winner.
It was not an entirely convincing display from City, but their additional quality eventually told, with De Bruyne providing the sort of calm and controlled finish that their visitors had been unable to produce from similar situations. The Belgian and Jesus Navas were City’s brightest attacking sparks in the absence of the injured David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
Aside from a couple of defeats, Man City have performed impressively during the first couple of months of the domestic season. They are the highest scoring team in the Premier League, at a rate of 2.67 goals per match, and also have the joint second best defensive record in the division. They have regularly dominated the shot count in their matches.
Pellegrini will definitely be without the injured Aguero (hamstring), Silva (ankle), Gael Clichy (ankle) and Fabian Delph (hamstring), while Samir Nasri (hamstring) is doubtful.
Man Utd vs Man City Betting Tips
United were 4-2 victors in last season’s equivalent fixture following City’s 1-0 win at the Etihad earlier in the campaign. City have largely had the better of recent derbies, with a strong record of six wins and just two defeats in the last eight in league play. Those victories encompass three in the last four encounters at Old Trafford, including a 6-1 win in 2011.
United will be keen to put down an early-season marker by emerging victorious. They have largely managed to strike a decent balance between defensive solidity and attacking efficiency so far this season, although their recent defeat to Arsenal did display certain weaknesses. They look best at full throttle but that may prove too risky against City.
Man City will clearly miss Aguero, scorer of six goals in his last four derby appearances, but they still have plenty of capable attacking options. It is possible that they may sit a little deeper than usual in order to exploit the speed of De Bruyne, Navas and Raheem Sterling on the break against a United side who do not have a great deal of pace in their defensive core.
Recent derbies have generally been open and entertaining encounters and we expect this match to follow on in that tradition. It is difficult to call a winner but we believe that City have a slight edge given their more impressive performances to date.
- Back Manchester City to win on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ best odds of evens with Betfred, Paddy Power, BetVictor, Unibet or William Hill.
- There have been three or more goals scored in six of the last eight league meetings between these sides, including six in last season’s equivalent fixture. Back over 2.5 goals @ best betting odds of 13/15 with Unibet.