There is much on the line for both clubs when local rivals Manchester United and Manchester City meet at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Wednesday (20:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Man Utd could really do with all three points in their bid to force their way into the top four down the final stretch. City must win to give themselves a concrete, albeit slender, advantage over their sole remaining challengers Liverpool in the Premier League title race.
Man Utd come into the derby on the back of an utterly abject performance away to Everton on Sunday. Their hosts were two up inside the opening half-hour and then added to their advantage with another pair of goals in the first 20 minutes of the second period. United were defensively lax and created almost nothing going forward.
The 0-4 defeat was the club’s worst since a loss by the same scoreline to Chelsea in 2016. Those are their only defeats by more than three goals in the last seven and a half years. The result signalled the end to coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s honeymoon period.
Solskjaer’s initial appointment on an interim basis in mid-December preceded a run of eight consecutive victories in all competitions and a record of 14 wins, two draws and just one defeat in his first 17 matches at the helm. United made progress in cup competitions and reentered the top-four fight in the league. Yet while top-line results were impressive, the underlying statistics, while improved from those under Jose Mourinho, were less so.
Now things are balancing out. United have won two and lost six of their last eight matches in all competitions, falling out of the FA Cup and the Champions League in the process. They are also on the back foot in the league following three consecutive away defeats, with difficult home matches to come on Wednesday and then again against fellow top-four hopefuls Chelsea at the weekend.
They have a clear imperative to take maximum points. That has at least spared United from making a decision about how to approach this match, whose result will likely prove decisive in determining whether the league title goes to their city rivals City or to Liverpool. The latter are their historical rivals for the crown of England’s most successful club.
Man City are in the enviable position of knowing that they just need to win their matches to defend their Premier League trophy successfully. United represent the strongest of the opponents they have to face in their remaining five matches, and victory on Wednesday, in their game in hand over Liverpool, would represent a clear step towards the title. They would leapfrog Liverpool into top spot and grab the psychological advantage.
Saturday’s 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, achieved thanks to an early goal from Phil Foden, was Man City’s 10th consecutive league victory. It certainly didn’t represent full payback for the same opponents dumping them out of the Champions League in a more dramatic encounter a few days earlier, but it did keep Pep Guardiola’s side on course for a domestic treble.
With the Carabao Cup already in the bag and a FA Cup final to come against Watford in mid-May, City are still in with a good chance of becoming the first team in the history of English football to win all three of the major domestic trophies in the same season. While all around the club were clearly disappointed at the failure to make further progress in the Champions League, the focus must now shift to sweeping up the domestic silverware.
In light of Liverpool’s similarly impressive form, City cannot afford a slip-up in midweek if they want to make the league title the second of those triumphs. They have won 2-1 at Old Trafford in each of the last two seasons and have generally performed very well there in recent years, winning five, drawing one and also losing just won of the last seven league encounters at United’s home.
Our Preview’s Man Utd vs Man City Betting Tips Verdict
It is Guardiola’s side who can again be expected to emerge victorious on Wednesday in a match that by recent precedent should also feature a good number of goals.
- Bet on Manchester City to win in a match featuring over 2.5 goals @ best odds of 19/20 with Betfred.