The memory of Manchester United’s 3 – 2 win at the Etihad in April is far from erased from the Manchester City psyche. Two-nil up and cruising, City threw away the three points they needed to be crowned Premier League champions last season. Pep Guardiola won’t allow a repeat of that defeat, particularly given his sometimes-explosive relationship with Jose Mourinho.
Not that many gave the Portuguese much chance of being in charge for this match. A month ago, he was odds-on for the elbow. A midweek win over Juventus made his position just about impregnable. If a week is a long time in football so four weeks is a lifetime.
It’s business as usual with City top of the table, unbeaten in 11 (W9, D2) averaging three goals per game while conceding once in a blue moon. This time, however, others are keeping in touch; Chelsea and Liverpool refuse to cow down to the Cityzens.
This is City’s fourth consecutive home game with the three before were the hors-d'oeuvre before this main course is served up. Shakhtar Donetsk and Southampton were both hit for six in a run of six consecutive victories.
City’s form against the current top five is almost impeccable. Three wins – Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – without conceding while Liverpool forced a goalless draw at Anfield. This is their first ‘big game’ at home this season, however. One home defeat suffered already, to Lyon in the Champions League but three wins since then put them on the cusp of the knockout phase.
Guardiola fought back against allegations of financial chicanery by the club earlier the week, claiming it wasn’t money which brought them success. It might not be, but it certainly gave the hard-working coach and his staff some exquisite raw materials to work with. It’s hard to think of another top-flight club who wouldn’t miss a player of De Bruyne’s quality, but City have barely skipped a beat.
Much of that is down to Aguero and Sterling. The pair contributed to 22 goals between them. The stocky Argentine striker has seven goals and four assists; Sterling has six and five. Raheem Sterling is 6/1 with Betfair for first goalscorer in the match. It’s the firepower other clubs can only dream of. Behind them, Mahrez and the Silvas, David and Bernardo, are proving equally potent in attack. It’s been a mesmeric force this season; does Jose Mourinho have the answers?
Two-nil down at home to Newcastle United, Ed Woodward was writing Jose’s name on a brown envelope. Three second-half goals without reply and the Manchester United CEO quietly folded the stationery, casting it into the wastepaper basket.
Since then, it’s one defeat in five – at home to Juventus – with three wins and a draw. The last three games all finished 2 – 1 in United’s favour. Indeed, in all bar one of their eight away games, United have scored at least two (W5, D1).
Curiously, that undermines one of the criticisms of the Old Trafford club. The narrative of United being dysfunctional and dull away from home doesn’t always bear witness to matches. Or not all the match. The second-half performances at Bournemouth and in Turin were considerably better than the opening forty-five minutes.
United though do ride their luck, leaning heavily on the brilliance of David de Gea to keep them in the game. It’s been a theme for United in recent seasons when they have spells where the Spaniard maintains their form with crucial saves.
Despite their goalscoring form in recent weeks, United’s top scorer last year, Romelu Lukaku is struggling. Four goals in the Premier League but none for United in his last nine appearances in any competition. Last season, he answered his critics who claimed his £75m fee was excessive. This time around, he is offering more questions than answers.
He’s not the only one; Alexis Sanchez has 1 goal and two assists in the league, far from the sparkling form he showed at Arsenal. Rumours continue to swirl that he is to leave Old Trafford next summer. Paddy Power are offer 14/1 for Sanchez to score the first goal of the game!
Do United have the firepower to take the points again? Marcus Rashford was electric in April and is likely to lead the United line against City. Maybe the young England man can bolster the Red Devils season.
FORM (Last six Premier League games)
Manchester City - WWDWWW
Manchester United - DLWDWW
- Manchester City has seen over 2.5 goals in 21 of their last 24 home games.
- In six of their last seven home matches, City have won HT/FT.
- Manchester United has seen over 2.5 goals in 7 of their 8 away games this season.
- United have also scored in all eight of those matches.
CURRENT MATCH ODDS (BEST PRICED ODDS)
HEAD TO HEAD
Last six meetings
Date Competition Result
20-Mar-2016 EPL Manchester City 0-1 Manchester Utd
10-Sep-2016 EPL Manchester Utd 1-2 Manchester City
26-Oct-2016 League Cup Manchester Utd 1-0 Manchester City
27-Apr-2017 EPL Manchester City 0-0 Manchester Utd
10-Dec-2017 EPL Manchester Utd 1-2 Manchester City
07-Apr-2018 EPL Manchester City 2-3 Manchester Utd
This is a vital match for both sides. United are seventh and four points behind Tottenham in the final Champions League place. There’s a long way to go to the end of the season but already United’s goal difference is significantly inferior to the top five.
City don’t have such issues. They continue to set the pace and it’s hard to see United’s sometimes shambolic defence coping with a vibrant City attack. Yet, the same concerns were aired before the incredible late drama in Allianz Arena in midweek; it didn’t stop United then.
However, City possesses the edge of needing some ‘payback’ for last season; some closure, and that will be the difference between the two sides.
Manchester City to win and both teams to score at 17/10 is our pick of the week – visit Coral!
MY RECOMMENDED BETS
- Total goals over 3.5: 5/4 – visit Befred!
- Marcus Rashford anytime goalscorer: 10/3 – visit Betfair!
- Manchester City to win HT/FT: 21/20 – visit Coral!
- Manchester City to win by two goals: 3/1 – visit Betfair!
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (18:00 10th November 2018) and are subject to change.