Manchester City need to take all three points when they host local rivals Manchester United on Sunday if they are to keep their Premier League title challenge on track (13:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Man City come into the 168th Manchester derby on the back of a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Newcastle in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday. The reigning champions are third in the Premier League table, with 17 points from five wins, two draws and two defeats. They are losing ground on Chelsea, the bookies’ odds-on title favourites. A loss here will see Chelsea shorten even more in the Premier League outright winner betting.
Man City’s loss to Newcastle came just a few days after City’s 2-1 league defeat away to West Ham. The home side were strong and direct from the off and took a one goal lead into the break. City recovered a little in the second half and did create some good chances, but West Ham had already doubled their lead before David Silva scored Man City’s only goal of the match.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have, by their own standards, been inconsistent in the early months of the season. Their summer transfer business strengthened the squad but not necessarily the first team and a number of opponents seem to have worked out ways of dealing with their primary threats. With Edin Dzeko off form, Sergio Aguero (pictured) is the only genuine goalscorer.
There are also question marks over the form and commitment of Yaya Toure, who is yet to produce an assist in the league this season and, as per Premier League tracking data, is making far less high-intensity sprints than he did in the previous campaign. He is also failing to provide adequate protection for the back four when he is employed in the midfield two.
Pellegrini will definitely be without the injured Frank Lampard (thigh) for this match, while Silva (knee) is doubtful.
Man Utd come into the derby on the back of a promising 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea last weekend. They are eighth in the Premier League, four points shy of City, with 13 points from three wins, four draws and two defeats.
Louis Van Gaal’s side were well organised and created the better chances against the unbeaten league leaders, with only their finishing letting them down. Chelsea took the lead early in the second half, but after a brief lull Man Utd began to push numbers forward and eventually equalised through Robin Van Persie in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
The relatively cautious starting XI and approach did lead to Angel Di Maria having one of his poorest matches since joining the club. Van Gaal seemed less than enthused about his team’s performance in his post-match interview, but he will at least have been happy that his side avoided the defensive errors that have previously plagued them this season.
The problem is that after failing to take the expected number of points from a relatively easy fixture list in the early part of the campaign, Man Utd now face five of their fellow top eight finishers from last season in the remainder of the calendar year. With consistency still not a strong point, it may be 2015 before Van Gaal’s United begin to reach top gear.
Van Gaal has no confirmed injury absentees for the short trip to the Etihad, but there are serious doubts over the participation of Antonio Valencia (hamstring) Johnny Evans (ankle) and Patrick McNair (hamstring), while Ashley Young (knock), Phil Jones (shin) and Radamel Falcao Garcia (knock) are also carrying minor injuries. Wayne Rooney will return after serving his three-match suspension.
Manchester Derby Betting Tips Conclusion
Man City were comfortable 4-1 victors in last season’s equivalent fixture and also won 3-0 in the reverse at Old Trafford. They have generally enjoyed the upper hand in recent meetings, winning five of the last six league encounters. Man Utd do, though, have a solid record at the Etihad, having recorded two wins and one draw in the last five league meetings there.
City come into the derby on the back of two consecutive defeats, and just two victories in their last six matches in all competitions. They are still a very good team and are rightfully second-favourites to win the Premier League this season, but they have been made to look a little predictable by some of their opponents.
It is still very difficult to judge United’s strength relative to the other contenders for a top six finish, as consistency has certainly not been their strong point so far this season. They played in a slightly more cautious manner against Chelsea, but that could simply have been a function of their lack of available strikers for that fixture.
We would expect United to be a little more adventurous here and envisage an open and high-scoring match. We do, however, believe that City, despite some problems, remain the most likely victors.
- Back Manchester City to win @ best odds of 19/20 with Ladbrokes.
- Five of the last eight fixtures between the sides in all competitions have yielded four or more goals, as have both of United’s last two away fixtures and two of City’s four home matches so far this season. We expect Sunday’s match to follow suit. Back over 3.5 goals @ 8/5 with BetVictor or Betfair Sportsbook.