Manchester City v Manchester United: Can Mourinho Strategically Park his Bus to Stop the Guardiola Juggernaut?
Manchester City are just one win away from claiming the Premier League title with six games to spare. The caveats standing in the way for the blue half of Manchester are a Champions League double-header with Liverpool, and bitter rivals Manchester United, who will be desperate to stop their ‘noisy neighbours’ from a title celebration while at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening, kick-off – 17:30.
Guardiola’s men lead United by sixteen points in the Premier League standings and will seal the deal with victory at the weekend, but the Spanish boss has already suggested in the media that City will rest key players to keep them fresh for the all-English Champions League Quarter-Final second-leg on home soil next Tuesday night.
Despite City being on the precipice of title glory and considering a home derby with United as one, if not the, biggest game of their season generally speaking, it can be argued that United have the greater incentive to grab the spoils in this fixture. The Red Devils lead the chasing pack behind City, but Liverpool and Tottenham are hot on the heels of Mourinho’s men, who can barely afford to drop points against the champions-elect.
If you consider that bet365 priced up Manchester City as 1-2 shots to beat Chelsea four weeks previously, the best available odds currently available for City to beat United on Saturday evening is 81/100 with MarathonBet. Several other layers are drifting out their odds on the home side, but there is definitely some value in their current odds, regardless of potential squad rotation.
The Draw can be backed again with MarathonBet and Unibet at the top price of 29/10, while Unibet are out on their own with odds of 31/10 on the away win.
United have one win and one draw in their last two league trips to the Etihad, which does bode well for Mourinho’s men. City will almost certainly have the majority of possession in the game, but the test will be if they can break down United’s obdurate defence. At the prices, the Draw looks to be the play for this game, as the result would ultimately suit both teams at this stage of their respective seasons.
Individual Goal Scorers
Manchester City’s Argentinian striker, Sergio Aguero has missed the past six games for club and country but could line-up against United at the weekend. The bookmakers obviously believe this to be the case as Aguero is priced up as the generally available 7/2 favourite to open the scoring.
Aguero’s fellow City strike-partner, Gabriel Jesus is next best at 9/2 with Boylesports while Raheem Sterling – who was rested in midweek – can be had with bet365 and Sport Pesa at the top price of 6/1. The same firms offer German international wide-man Leroy Sane at the tempting price of 7/1.
Manchester United’s first interest in the First Goalscorer betting is with main striker, Romelu Lukaku, who is also a 7/1 shot with Boylesports and bet365. Former destroyer of Manchester City at the Etihad, Marcus Rashford is a widely available 9/1 chance, while Alexis Sanchez can add to his goal against Swansea last weekend at a tasty 9/1 with Betway and 188Bet. The odds on the Chilean international look too big in my view and is worthy of a small wager in a hugely competitive market.
Other Side Bets
Just two of the last seven meetings between the teams in all competitions have yielded three or more goals in the game – and I don’t envisage this contest to alter those statistics. William Hill, Betway and Sport Pesa offer the odds of 19/20 on Under 2.5 Goals, which is a reasonable price in itself, however, Black Type are offering the stand-out price of 32/25 which should definitely be taken and is rated as a strong selection.
As usual, we will throw in a Correct Score bet for this game and although it is the market favourite choice of the bookmakers, the advice is to have a wager on a 1-1 draw at 13/2 with William Hill.
My angle on this game is that United have the stronger incentive to gain a positive result even though City need just one win to claim the title. City can get that elusive victory in other fixtures when they face less fixture congestion, so the draw is preferred at the juicy odds of 29/10.
In recent seasons, United have gained the upper hand on several occasions in the early stages of games at the Etihad and with that in mind, bet365 are offering the large odds of 19/1 for United to be leading at the break, but with City ultimately claiming a share of the spoils in the Half-time / Full-time market.