Manchester City vs Manchester United
A Manchester derby; blue versus red; the ‘noisy neighbours’ against the traditionally dominant force in the Premier League would normally have the hallmarks of a potential classic.
It’s different this time, however.
This time there are actually 14 points separating them and the title is as good as won by Manchester City for the third time in four years.
This time there is also a lack of passionate spectators.
Whether those factors will lead to a let-up in the intensity remains to be seen as we await the 185th Manchester derby.
Despite briefly being top in January, United have never been genuine challengers for the title this season and there appears some truth in the claim they have lacked ambition at times.
Perhaps more realistically, however, is a realisation that they know they aren’t well enough equipped in key areas to mount a challenge and so will, on occasion, opt for a more cautious, unambitious approach.
That was evident at Chelsea last Sunday, while a further stalemate at Crystal Palace in midweek merely highlighted the gap between them and their rivals across the city.
The fact two of their main stars, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, are already into the mid-40s in terms of appearances (and it’s only early March) also shows just how this congested campaign must be taking its toll.
With a squad of depth and top talent, City have been less impacted than most.
They made it 20 wins on the spin against West Ham last weekend and then won again as they saw off Wolves in midweek.
During their 15-match winning run in the league City have also racked up 38 goals and conceded only five.
Coach Pep Guardiola has targeted eight or nine wins to regain the title and, with his side still in contention to win an unprecedented quadruple of trophies, the Spaniard says he will continue to drive his squad to become better.
The title is as good as done, they’re 2-0 up after the away leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the final of the League Cup.
Of course, it helps enormously that City have the resources and wealth but they are making it count emphatically.
Another victory on Sunday will show just how much they are flexing their muscles on and off the pitch.
Victory over United would equal the 22 successive wins achieved by Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid in 2014-15. It would also put them just one win away from equalling Bayern Munich’s 23-game winning streak achieved last season and two behind Ajax who, under Louis van Gaal, embarked on a 25-match winning run in 1995.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can boast a decent record in the derby, winning three of his last six encounters with City, although how many risks he will be prepared to take against rampant opponents – on course to beat their own joint-record 18-match Premier League winning run – is questionable.
Derby day should certainly tell us a bit more about both sides.
These two have produced so many Premier League highlights over the years.
This corresponding fixture last season saw United record a victory which was as thrilling as it was unexpected – one of three victories over their city rivals last term.
Arguably the one that mattered, however, was City’s success in the League Cup semi-finals, a victory they repeated at the same stage of this season’s competition.
The earlier league season meeting just before Christmas was a derby stalemate at Old Trafford.
United have the edge historically, winning 76 of their meetings compared to City’s 54 triumphs and 53 draws.
|Manchester City vs Manchester United||First Half 1X2 Draw @ 2.31|
|March 8, 00:30 (GMT+8)|
After 21 wins on the spin, it is hardly a surprise the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds make City firm favourites.
In fact, it says so much about their dominance that United are priced 1X2 @ 5.80. City, by contrast, are priced @ 1.54 with the draw as far out as @ 4.00.
Asian Handicap odds follow a similar pattern with City -1.00 @ 1.95 and United +1.00 @ 1.95.
For goals – Over 2.75 of them – the odds are the same @ 1.95.
As for a repeat of the corresponding fixture last season, then correct score 1-2 will earn you a nice pay day of @ 20.00.
I’ve got to say, I don’t see too many goals in this one and I am struggling to select a favoured option here.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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