It’s the second part of our double feature weekend, and it’s an absolute belter of a football match, isn’t it? It’s the first Manchester Derby of the season with new faces, stories, and heritage to see woven into the tapestry of English football.
At first glance it might seem straightforward, but when are they ever straightforward?
To Win (90 mins)
Manchester City 7/20
Manchester United 7/1
This often-feisty affair has so much depth and so many layers already associated with it. As if the 2022/23 season didn’t already garner so much intrigue, what about a Manchester Derby with a certain Erling Haaland, son of former City midfielder Alfe Inge, added to the mix? If you thought he might need something to get up for this one, think again.
I’m not going to bore you with the statistics around Haaland’s goal scoring ability – ok maybe I’m leaving them out for my own intimate feelings, but let’s just move on, shall we?
The Norwegian’s partnership with De Bruyne continues to mesmerize the world for all the right reasons. Admittedly it is brilliant to watch and if they are afforded any space in the middle of the park – United’s defensive line will be in trouble. If City score first I think they will cruise to victory. The confidence will go up and their talisman (yes, I have pluralized talisman) in the middle and upfront become more composed and less intentional and ironically it brings the best out of both.
The joker in this pack though is the fact that the game comes immediately after an international break. These two teams would have had pretty much all of their first-team players away on international duty and with little time between returning to their clubs and this game – you never really know…
Manchester United were tame and almost toothless when these two met last season. United lacked an impotence to challenge City, let alone compete. However, under Erik ten Hag, they look organized and far more resilient in recent weeks after a disastrous opening two weeks.
I must be honest, when I received the instruction slip to say that I was covering this game, my initial thinking was it’s a City win at a canter…how premature of me right? Lest you forget that United had won five of their last seven trips to the Etihad! And yes, I will say it, its laughable to think an accurate price about United winning is 7/1!
United has proven they can recover well after a poor showing early on, they have gone on a run of four straight wins, and I struggle to see where the fault lies within a statistic like that. They have recovered from last season’s thumping’s at the hands of Liverpool to put Jurgen Klopp’s side to the sword, winning 2-1. Now before you point to the lackluster start the Champion-hopefuls have had to endure, United also beat Arsenal 3-1 to secure a further valuable point-haul and note a significant result.
Lisandro Martinez, Antony, Christin Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia have begun to hit their straps and added meaningful contribution to the success of the team. Varane seems more settled, Sancho is playing with confidence irrespective of his national snub and Rashford is beginning to look like that talented youngster who burst onto the man scene in 2016.
Underestimate United at your peril, they are a quality side who are in a brilliant space now. The chemistry is clear, the trust and appreciation for a system and manager is once again evident and the quality rooted in the players, they can field each week is clearly on display. I cannot wait for this game.
Prediction: Manchester City/Draw + BTTS (9/10)
To be completely honest, this isn’t a bet I would add to anything major. City is a juggernaut – we know that – but they have showed they aren’t impenetrable either. United have already taken maximum points from two of their archrivals and done so in impressive fashion, could this be the third?
Be that as it may, City to win at home should be the bet and both teams scoring makes the price respectable. I think 9/10 is fair and so it’s my pick for the first Manchester Derby of the season…as always in cases such as these, I hope I’m hopelessly wrong.