Manchester United v Manchester City: Red Devils can keep Citizens in-check at Old Trafford
The Manchester derby takes centre-stage on Super Sunday and Mark O'Haire reckons United are capable of keeping City in-check at Old Trafford...
Manchester United v Manchester City Sunday March 8, 16:30 Sky Sports
Manchester United extend unbeaten run
January signing Odion Ighalo scored twice on Thursday night to secure Manchester United's place in the FA Cup quarter-final with a comfortable 3-0 win at Derby. The former Watford striker produced two smart finishes either side of half-time to add to Luke Shaw's deflected opener as the Red Devils dispatched the Championship with room to spare at Pride Park.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's troops have now stitched together a nine-game unbeaten run to move within sight of Wembley, as well as potentially a place in the Champions League. Fellow new recruit Bruno Fernandes was again clearly a step above, a constant threat at the top of their midfield, while Shaw also had an excellent game at full-back in United's 4-2-3-1.
Solskjaer made six changes to his starting XI from last weekend's 1-1 draw at Everton. Post-match the Norwegian confirmed he is confident of having captain Harry Maguire - who missed the Derby match with an ankle injury - fit for Sunday's showdown and also suggested Ighalo has a strong chance of starting following his eye-catching efforts in midweek.
Manchester City secure back-to-back cup triumphs
Manchester City overcame a spirited Sheffield Wednesday side to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night and stay on course for a domestic and European cup treble. Fresh from their Carabao Cup triumph at Wembley, the defending champions were 1-0 winners at Hillsborough with Sergio Aguero's 23rd goal of the season proving decisive.
Up until the Argentine found the net with a strong left-foot finish, the Citizens had been frustrated by a stubborn Owls defensive performance. Nicolas Otamendi and Benjamin Mendy both hit the bar when the tie was goalless yet Pep Guardiola's group, who dominated possession, had to wait 48 minutes before they managed a shot on-target.
Despite the narrow margin of victory, City keeper Claudio Bravo did not have a save to make. However, it wasn't all good news for City with star midfielder Kevin de Bruyne missing out with a back injury with Guardiola later confirming the Belgian is now a doubt for Sunday's derby date at Old Trafford. Ederson and Raheem Sterling are set to be recalled.
Red Devils big underdogs at Old Trafford
Manchester United have lost their last three home games against Manchester City in all competitions; curiously, the away side has won six of the last seven matches between the two rivals. Nevertheless, United are looking to complete a league double over City for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired, last achieving the feat back in 2009-10.
Manchester United5.40 are in the midst of their best run of form in 2019/20. The Red Devils have avoided defeat in nine (W6-D3-L0) since a shock home loss to Burnley, tabling seven shutouts in the process. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have also enjoyed encounter against the Premier League's elite this term, returning W5-D4-L1 against top-eight rivals.
Manchester City1.68 have clicked into gear over the past 10 weeks, winning 12 of 15 fixtures across all competitions and putting together a collection of domineering displays, even in defeat (W12-D1-L2). The visitors have earned top honours at Leicester, Sheffield United and Real Madrid in that sample, and also excelled in an unfortunate loss at Spurs.
The Citizens head to Old Trafford without defensive lynchpin Aymeric Laporte. When the French ace isn't holding the fort, City's clean sheets decrease by 16% with goals conceded per-game increasing from 0.59 to 1.07. Man City's win rate drops, as does the team's ability to beat a one-goal handicap, suggesting there's mileage here in opposing City's short odds.
United can keep this contest competitive
Four of the past five Manchester derbies have delivered for punters backing Over 2.5 Goals1.70, as well as Both Teams To Score. Combining the two angles pays even-money on Sunday, although there's potentially more appealing plays elsewhere with Man Utd expected to sit deep and play on the counter-attack in the hope of frustrating City.
With the Citizens' injury issues in mind, it could pay to follow the Same Game Multi market again on Betfair Sportsbook and instead combineManchester United +2 handicap with Manchester United to score Over 0.5 Goals - we're essentially backing the hosts to win, draw or lose by a solitary strike whilst also getting on the scoresheet at kind 1.80 odds.
Despite their dominance, Man City have won just three of nine meetings with top-seven rivals this term and the away side's aforementioned defensive issues without key personnel has already been widely highlighted. Chuck in the potential absence of Kevin de Bruyne and the guests may struggle to put United away with room to spare.