Manchester United vs Manchester CityEnglish Premier League, KO: 20:00 Apr 24, 2019, Old Trafford
OLD TRAFFORD heralds the start of a defining final four fixtures for Manchester City in their quest to retain their Premier League crown. Furthermore, the hosts themselves also have a lot to play for as they compete to return to the competition that they just recently crashed out of, namely, the Uefa Champions League.
Following on from a footballing lesson in Barcelona last week, Manchester United were mauled 4-0 on Merseyside by Marco Silva’s Everton. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer publicly slaughtered his side after that shambolic showing and former United skipper Gary Neville disparagingly added to that in describing United’s performance as “rancid”.
That Easter Sunday execution at Goodison Park was United’s sixth defeat in eight games and in doing so continued what has been a dramatic dip in form for the Red Devils since Solskjaer was appointed the Manchester United manager on a permanent basis.
Manchester City on the other hand head to their neighbours home having won their last 10 Premier League games. The Citizens may have dramatically exited the Champions League last midweek, however they still defeated Spurs on the night and gruellingly did so again domestically three days later.
City’s latest success against Tottenham saw Pep Guardiola’s side reclaim top spot in the Premier League, however their spell at the summit was short lived after Liverpool won in Wales later on that weekend. Pep’s men are now faced with another significant fixture as this Manchester derby marks City’s game in hand over Liverpool in what is a tantalising title race.
Ordinarily the Old Trafford faithful would take delight in denying their city rivals another title triumph, however, and somewhat ironically, were they to do so, United could all but hand their long standing rivals Liverpool their first league title in almost three decades.
Off the park psychology aside, United’s focus on the park will be delivering a much improved performance after their shocking display on Sunday. Furthermore, Solskjaer will demand a response from his players and a local derby represents the perfect opportunity for them to do just that.
Manchester United surely can’t be any worse after a galling display at Goodison and Solskjaer will almost certainly makes changes his starting 11. Expect Pep Guardiola to do the same after his side's Champions League exploits seen him rotate his squad against Spurs on Saturday.
After shipping three goals at home to Spurs last midweek, City managed to follow that up with a Saturday shutout against the same opposition. Tottenham did however make City sweat and coming out of Old Trafford with a clean sheet may prove more troublesome for the Citizens.
Man City’s free-flowing style of play regularly presents their opponents with opportunities and add to that the strong emotion that accompanies these occasions as well as United’s talented attacking options, I like the look of backing Manchester United to score at 1/2 (William Hill).
Furthermore United found the net against City in this seasons reverse fixture at the Etihad and the home side have not suffered a domestic defeat at Old Trafford since August. In conjunction with that Manchester City not registering on the scoresheet is rare, so back Both Teams to Score at 4/6 (Bet365).
In considering what players may do damage in the derby Sergio Aguero is typically the bookies favourite in the anytime goalscorer market. Raheem Sterling has been widely regarded as the Citizens star man this season, however Aguero is traditionally City’s man for the big occasion and looks a good bet at 19/20 (Ladbrokes) to get his first goal at Old Trafford since 2015.
In terms of separating the sides most bookmakers make Manchester City clear favourites at a general 4/9. If however you fancy Manchester United to dent Pep’s title pursuit then the draw is available at 4/1(Bet 365) and a home win at Old Trafford is on offer at an abnormal 13/2 (Bet365).
Although the Red Devils have regressed in recent weeks, I suspect that a nervy night is in store for City. These encounters generally generate passion and given that the destination of the Premier League title could hinge on this Manchester battle, I think that the 4/9 on offer for a City win is precarious price.
Solskjaer's side are unlikely to show any mercy against their noisy neighbours, with United themselves in desperate need of points as they chase a top four finish.
City’s superior style and quality can ultimately see them prevail with a priceless three points, however I suspect that an away win won’t be as straightforward as the bookies suggest.
A more shrewd approach can be taken by backing Pep Guardiola’s men to emerge victorious by the narrowest of margins. Consequently, back Manchester City to win by one goal at 13/5 (bet365).
This English Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City will be played on Apr 24, 2019 and kick off at 20:00