Two local rivals very much in need of victory to boost their hopes of meeting their seasonal objectives meet when Manchester City host Man Utd in the 179th Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (5.30pm live on Sky Sports).
Two-time reigning Premier League champions, Man City, need three points to continue clinging onto the coattails of runaway league leaders Liverpool. United need three points to drag themselves back up into top-four contention following a difficult start to the campaign.
Those differing objectives demonstrate just how significantly the balance of power has shifted within the city since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as United manager following their league title success in 2012-13, their fourth in his final six seasons. Man City have finished ahead of United in each of the subsequent six seasons and have won the title three times.
It is also reflected in the results of the local derby over the last six seasons. City won both of last season’s encounters, including a 3-1 win on home soil, have won four of the last six, and seven, to United’s three, of the 12 meetings since Ferguson’s departure.
Performances, results and the underlying talent levels within the respective squads indicate that City are again the superior team this season and by some distance. They and Liverpool were the clear class of the field last year, finishing a point apart, with champions Man City a full 26 points ahead of third-place Chelsea. The situation doesn’t look all that different now.
There is, though, already quite a gap between the two teams that both the UK online bookmakers and general consensus have pegged as the only two viable title challengers. A series of stumbles have seen City drop 13 points in 15 matches, just three less than they dropped over the entirety of last season. Liverpool defeated them in the direct encounter between the sides to assist in opening up an imposing 11-point advantage at the top.
A few days after a disappointing draw away at Newcastle, Pep Guardiola’s side let off a bit of steam with a 4-1 win away to Burnley on Tuesday. Gabriel Jesus put them ahead midway through the first half and added another early into the second. Rodrigo Hernandez smashed home a third before substitute Riyad Mahrez made it four. Burnley got a late consolation.
It was one of many victories that Guardiola and his side know must now chain together if they are to have a chance of catching the runaway leaders. Saturday’s visitors Man Utd might not have quite such a task in front of them either in terms of the points deficit or the quality of their direct rivals, but their chances of getting into the top four will almost certainly rest on starting to string some wins together.
We are already nearly 40% into the season and United are yet to record back-to-back victories in the Premier League. With both Chelsea and this campaign’s surprise package Leicester accumulating strong points hauls to date (Leicester’s enough to have them three points ahead of City in second), that is something they need to improve upon quickly if the eight-point gap to Chelsea in fourth is to be closed.
EPL results to date (five wins, six draws, four defeats) don’t fully represent United’s level, but neither do their underlying statistics suggest that they are equal to or better than any of the current top four. Even with the adoption of a relatively cautious style presumably designed to hide certain weaknesses in the squad, they are unlikely to get sufficiently good results to yield a return to the Champions League.
Our Preview’s Man City vs Man Utd Betting Tips Verdict
Man Utd did record a good victory in midweek, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Old Trafford thanks to a pair of goals from Marcus Rashford. His pace, direct running and ability to get off shots will also prove valuable skills against a City team who have looked vulnerable in transition this season. It suggests that United have a solid chance of getting on the scoresheet on Saturday.
I still find it hard to look beyond Man City as the most probable victors. This is the betting tip for this Manchester Derby preview:
- Bet on Man City to win & both teams to score @ 9/5 with BoyleSports.
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