For the latest edition of Big Game Focus, we take a look at the Manchester derby, which will be staged at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday evening.
One of the fiercest rivalries in the football world will be rekindled this weekend when sworn nemeses Manchester City and Manchester United do battle in the 177th Manchester derby. Both sides will be riding a high wave after they registered positive results in the Champions League in mid-week.
City’s form this campaign has been as emphatic as it was in most of last. They once again sit top of the table, with the most wins and goals scored, least goals conceded and no matches lost at all. United are already nine points behind the leaders; defeat will in all likelihood end their already faint hopes of a title challenge.
Here is our match preview, including betting advice, team news and likely line-ups.
City have scored an incredible 33 goals in the Premier League already this season, more than anyone else. Their 0-0 draw against Liverpool last month was the only time they failed to score. United may not have scored as many as Pep Guardiola’s side (they have 19), but they have also found the net in but one of their games so far. Odds for Both Teams to Score are at 1.65.
José Mourinho’s men have made a habit of picking up important results despite falling behind in recent weeks. They have conceded the first goal in five of their last six games in all competitions. The hosts have on the other hand, scored the first goal in all but three of their games so far this season. Back City To Score First Goal at odds of 1.35.
No one has scored more Premier League goals this season than Sergio Aguero. Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal and Eden Hazard of Chelsea match him, with seven strikes apiece. The Argentine forward does love to score in the Manchester derby; he has eight goals in 12 games against United. He is just three shy of Wayne Rooney, who has scored more times than anyone else in the history of the fixture. Aguero’s odds for Anytime Goalscorer are at 1.60.
Five of the last nine competitive goals in the Manchester derby have been scored in the second half. United’s recent knack for a late flourish have seen them score 11 of their last 14 goals in the second half. Bet on the Second Half With Most Goals at 2.05.
Kevin De Bruyne and Claudio Bravo – both of whom are nursing long-term injuries – are the only serious absentees for Man City. Vincent Kompany is likely to return to the starting 11 for Guardiola, at the expense of either John Stones or Aymeric Laporte, the Citizens’ starting pair at the centre of defence this season.
Romelu Lukaku is back training with the first team after missing the Red Devils’ two matches. It remains to be seen, however, whether Mourinho will be put him back in the starting line-up at the Etihad.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy; Bernardo, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sané
Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelöf, Shaw; Herrera, Matić, Pogba; Mata, Sanchez, Martial