Manchester United v Manchester City Wednesday 20:00, Sky Sports Premier League Match Odds: Man Utd7.60, Man City 1.50, The Draw 5.00
Wednesday night's Manchester derby is a huge fixture for both sides; United are fighting for a place in the top four, while City can't afford to drop points in their challenge for the league title.
United managed to spoil City's planned title party at roughly this stage this year, but can they record another surprise victory here? Odds of 7.40, reportedly the highest-ever price for United in a Premier League game at Old Trafford, would suggest not.
De Bruyne out again
Manchester City come into this game on the back of an ultimately meaningless victory against Tottenham last midweek, and then a narrow and slightly unconvincing win over the same opposition at the weekend. Pep Guardiola rotated his side for the second of those fixtures, but also suffered from Kevin De Bruyne going down with another injury.
This isn't too much of a problem for City; the obvious solution is simply playing Bernardo Silva, one of the nominees for PFA Player of the Year, playing in his preferred central midfield role rather than out wide on the right. Fernandinho is likely to come into the side from the outset having replaced De Bruyne on Saturday, while David Silva would expect to start but it wouldn't be unthinkable to see Ilkay Gundogan play here. He offers a little more defensive nous than Silva, and Guardiola may want to be more solid having seen his side opened up on the break in the first half at the weekend.
Sane to return?
Phil Foden, the hero of Saturday's win, will probably drop to the bench here. In the final third, Guardiola could turn to Leroy Sane, who hasn't started many big games this year but could cause United's defence seriously problems with his speed. Sergio Aguero will lead the line, with Raheem Sterling probably moving to the right flank.
Defensively, there are options at left-back with Benjamin Mendy the favourite to play ahead of Danilo, Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko, while there's also a question about John Stones, who had a poor game on Saturday. Vincent Kompany could come in between Kyle Walker and Aymeric Laporte, with Nicolas Otamendi another option. In goal, Ederson was man-of-the-match on Saturday, reminding everyone of his class, although he might not have many shots to save here.
Solskjaer unsure of his best system
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still without Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly, while Ander Herrera is considered doubtful. There's also a question about what system Solskjaer will use here - having used 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and a midfield diamond recently, it could be anything.
A four-man defence seems likely against this City front three, although you still worry about Ashley Young coping with Sane's speed, while Luke Shaw has a habit of switching off against players like Sterling, who make well-timed runs to the back post. Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling will be tasked with stopping Aguero, while in goal United can't quite rely on the usual brilliance from David De Gea, judging by his recent form.
Changes expected after Everton defeat
Nemanja Matic will play the holding role but often struggles to get around the pitch in games like these, so Herrera - or Scott McTominay - will probably play close alongside him. Paul Pogba needs a big performance after some recent poor displays.
Going forward, the use of Jesse Lingard could allow United to play either 4-3-3 or a midfield diamond, and his energy and counter-attacking ability should come in handy here. Further forward, neither Anthony Martial nor Marcus Rashford are in great form, but their speed on the break could cause problems against a City side who looked vulnerable to speed at the weekend. Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez seem likely to be on the bench.
I think there could be plenty of goals in this one: United were a shambles at the back against Everton, while City looked exposed to counters against Spurs. Backing over3.50 goals at2.50 is my tip here.
Pep Guardiola's side make the short journey to Old Trafford on Wednesday night for the 44th Manchester derby in the Premier League in what is a crucial game at the top end of the table. City are two points behind Liverpool and United sit sixth but only three points behind third placed Spurs.
City are unbeaten in the Premier League since the end of January (Newcastle 2-1) and have only lost once in all competitions since then, the away defeat against Spurs in the Champions League. With the big games coming thick and fast though for City, Kevin De Bruyne hobbling off during their 1-0 victory over Tottenham at the weekend is a major blow.
I couldn’t believe my eyes over the price ofManchester United 7.40 in the match odds market. I thought it was some sort of “exchange enhanced price”, I was expecting them about 5.00, 5.50 at best. I can’t imagine when they were last this price in a league game at Old Trafford. I accept they are in a poor run of form but if the opportunity arises to deal a severe blow to City's title hopes, (even though it means handing the title to Liverpool) in front of their home support, isn't enough to hype up the team, then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may as well pack it in now.
I am going to split my stake having 50% on Manchester United at7.40 and the beauty of that price is that the Asian Handicap market should be offering around 2.30 for Manchester United +1 (market not available at the time of writing). Assuming my tissue price is correct, being able to back Manchester United odds against at home with a one goal head start is too much for me to pass and the other half will be going there.