Manchester City aim to apply further pressure to league leaders Chelsea by winning their local derby away to Manchester United on Tuesday (19:45 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
United come into the match on the back of two consecutive victories, the most recent of which was a Wayne Rooney-inspired 2-0 win away to West Ham on Saturday. They are seventh in the Premier League table, with 51 points from 15 wins, six draws and nine defeats.
Rooney (pictured) rightly took the plaudits for a superb display, which included opening the scoring with an extraordinary half-volleyed lob from just inside the attacking half, but United were quite impressive overall, outshooting their hosts 16 to 10, 6 to 1 on target. It was their third away league victory to nil in succession, albeit all against sides in the bottom half.
The absence of the injured Robin Van Persie allowed Juan Mata to operate centrally and he flourished in tandem with Shinji Kagawa, making his first start since January. It was perhaps the most fluid United have looked in attack this season, with the selection of a single striker giving David Moyes more flexibility in dictating the alignment of his attacking midfielders.
In defence, Marouane Fellaini often dropped back to help makeshift central defender Michael Carrick deal with the aerial threat of Andy Carroll. It was a successful tactic for this particular match, but not one that provides a solution to United’s main defensive problem: dealing with teams who attack them directly with pace.
Moyes will definitely be without the injured Robin Van Persie (knee) for Tuesday’s match, with the Dutchman ruled out for four to six weeks. Antonio Valencia (eye), Chris Smalling (hamstring) and Johnny Evans (calf) are all doubtful. Nemanja Vidic is suspended, but Rio Ferdinand is expected to return from the back injury that ruled him out against West Ham.
City come into the derby on the back of a dominant 5-0 win at home to Fulham. It was their third consecutive league victory and their seventh in nine league matches since the turn of the year. The Citizens are third in the Premier League table, with 63 points from 20 wins, three draws and five defeats, six points behind Chelsea but with three games in hand.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were a little slow out of the blocks on Saturday, but went ahead from the penalty spot just before the half hour and turned on the style after the break against a Fulham side reduced to 10 men for the final 35 minutes. Yaya Toure scored a hat-trick, Fernandinho rifled home from a tight angle and Martin Demichelis tapped in a late fifth.
In a season in which City have for the most part been free-scorers, Saturday’s result ended a run of four league matches, encompassing defeat to Chelsea and a draw away to Norwich, during which they had scored just three times. With top-scorer Sergio Aguero injured and Alvaro Negredo off-form, they have lacked some of their early season potency in recent times.
The combined goal threat of attacking midfielders David Silva, Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri and central midfielders Fernandinho and Toure has generally been sufficient, but has given City less leeway when the defensive mistakes that have periodically plagued their season rear their ugly head. Defensive reinforcements will be among their priorities this summer.
Pellegrini will definitely be without the injured Aguero (hamstring) and Matija Nastastic (knee) for Tuesday’s match, while Micah Richards (muscle) is a serious doubt. Vincent Kompany returns from suspension after missing the victory over Fulham.
Man Utd v Man City Betting Tips
City were comfortable 4-1 victors when these sides met at the Etihad earlier this season, blowing United away with three strikes in a five minute spell either side of half time. They also triumphed, 2-1, in last season’s equivalent fixture and recorded a commanding 6-1 victory at Old Trafford during their title-winning season of 2011-12.
United have bounced back well from their heavy home defeat to Liverpool, but the quality of opposition has to be taken into account. They have taken just five points from seven matches against top four sides this season, scoring three and conceding 11, and have generally struggled against teams who attack them with pace, as City will seek to do.
City have little to fear, with both the stronger record in recent meetings and, as illustrated by the number of points and positions that separate the sides in the table, the better team. Defensive mistakes aside they are formidable opponents and even without Aguero will be relatively confident of taking all three points on Tuesday.
- Back Manchester City to win @ 6/5 with BetVictor, Paddy Power or William Hill.
- There have been a number of high-scoring matches between these sides in recent times, with an average of 4.33 goals per match over their last six encounters. Both sides have defensive flaws, while City possess the second strongest attack in the league. Back over 3.5 goals @ best odds of 15/8 with BetVictor.
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