Manchester United vs Manchester City | Sunday 25 October | Old Trafford | 16:05
The Manchester derby is upon us, with the historical footballing city once again being divided by the distinct colours of deep red and sky blue. Manchester United host league leaders Manchester City in a mouth-watering match that will have telling implications in the race for the 2015/16 Premier League title. City have dominated this fixture in recent seasons having won four of their last five meetings, but United did win the last encounter 4-2 at Old Trafford and will be confident of repeating that feat.
To Win (90 Mins)
Man United 15/10
Man City 31/20
Manchester United beat hosts Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park to stay just two points behind table-topping neighbours Manchester City. Goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney ensured United's emphatic win. The Red Devils will be hoping to build on that performance and will be targeting a maximum point’s haul against Manuel Pellegrini’s men. The Sky Blues boast an impressive recent record against Louis van Gaal’s side, but United can look to last season’s remarkable victory as inspiration as well as their good home form. United are unbeaten at home this season with three wins from four, including two on the bounce. The Red Devils have beaten Tottenham (1-0), Liverpool (3-1) and Sunderland (3-0) at Old Trafford and will be confident of adding City to that list. Van Gaal will be happy to have most of his players fully fit and available for the clash, while his counterpart Pellegrini has been rocked by devastating injury blows to Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Aleksandar Kolarov and Fabian Delph while Gael Clichy remains a major doubt. Van Gaal is likely to keep the same side that annihilated Everton last time out, which means Dutch star, Memphis Depay, could find himself on the bench following Ander Herrera’s barnstorming performance at Goodison Park. Herrera scored one and assisted another for United last weekend and the Spaniard will be hoping to put in another stellar performance against his club’s fiercest rivals. The former Bilbao man will be key in the middle of the park alongside the experienced Bastian Schweinsteiger and the ever-reliable Schneiderlin. Herrera is a talented footballer with sure passing ability and an eye for goal, but what impresses Van Gaal most is his high work rate. Herrera is good with or without the ball and when he has it, he is able to create magic within seconds. Juan Mata has been the creative hub in midfield with three goals and three assists to his name. Mata will be looking to manipulate the City defenders and provide a constant attacking threat with his incredible vision and ability to pick a pass. Up front, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are proven net-rattlers, who will look to hassle City’s backline.
Manchester City beat Bournemouth 5-1 last weekend to maintain their grip on first place in the Premier League. Raheem Sterling scored a first-half hat trick and Wilfried Bony netted twice for the Citizens, who won their second successive league match. The way in which Sterling, Bony and Kevin De Bruyne – playing in the absence of David Silva and Sergio Aguero – pulled Bournemouth's defence apart would have surely impressed Pellegrini, but it will be a lot harder when they face a star-studded Manchester United side. Without Silva and Aguero – arguably the league’s best playmaker and striker – City will most certainly not be at their majestic best and Pellegrini will need his other players to shine in their absence. City’s last away match ended horribly as they were thrashed 4-1 by a rampant Tottenham team. Prior to that loss, City had won their first three games on the road, beating West Brom (3-0), Everton (2-0) and Crystal Palace (1-0). The Sky Blues will be looking to avenge their 4-2 defeat against United last season and Pellegrini will be hoping all his players step up to the plate. De Bruyne has been outstanding since his return to the Premier League, scoring three goals with three assists in four starts. He has amazing dribbling, clever passing, and initiative with the ball. Another key attribute De Bruyne has is his football intelligence. He can easily use his intelligence to outplay his opponents. The Belgian playmaker can unlock even the best defences and United will need to close him down. Sterling will provide a constant threat on the wing and pester United’s fullbacks with excessive pace, quick feet, brilliant creativity and an eye for goal. Without Aguero spearheading the attack, City are not as frightening, and Pellegrini will need Bony to replicate his scoring exploits. Bony has been a shadow of the player he was in his Swansea days, where he was scoring on a weekly basis. However, the powerful Ivorian did put in a stellar performance against Bournemouth, bagging a brace to help his side to victory in their last game. His return to form and fitness is excellently timed from the Sky Blues' perspective, and City fans will be hoping he continues where he left off last weekend.
Verdict: Manchester United 15/10
The loss of Silva and Aguero will is a massive blow for City, and United will be a lot more confident without those players in the side. With home advantage and City’s injury crisis, I’m going for a Manchester United win at 15/10.
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