Manchester City v Manchester United Tips: City too short

United have a decent recent record in the Manchester derby and can again make things difficult for title-chasing City on Sunday, says Andy Schooler.

One of the most striking statistics surrounding this fixture is that nine of the last 12 Manchester derbies have been won by the away team.

And while the study period does take in the COVID behind-closed-doors era, it stretches back much further than that - to 2017 to be precise.

City's slight stutter to continue?

So, do United have what it takes to win at the Etihad for the fourth successive time and further strengthen that stat?

Well, City's form will certainly give them some hope.

Given Pep Guardiola's men have actually won 21 of their last 24 games, that may sound a little odd but if you focus on the last couple of weeks, things have been far from perfect.

Their last home game saw Tottenham depart as 3-2 winners, a result which really opened up the title race with Liverpool unrelenting in their pursuit - they headed into this weekend trailing City by six points but with a game in hand.

That pressure appeared to be preying on City a tad last week at Everton where it took a basic Michael Keane mistake for the visitors to claim a late win.

Relegation-threatened Everton had decent chances in the first half and, in virtually everyone's opinion, should have had a late penalty. In short, City could easily have dropped more points there.

Given what is a relatively poor record against United (six defeats and 'only' seven wins since Guardiola arrived in Manchester), it's not hard to make some sort of case for the Red Devils.

United proving hard to beat

OK, they certainly haven't met City's standards and the Old Trafford groans continue (and probably will until a Sir Alex Ferguson clone is found) but the fact is they've suffered just one 90-minute defeat in 20 games since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked.

They are hard to beat and have rarely been rolled over by City in their current era of dominance.

You can argue the opposition hasn't been the greatest but Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Arsenal have all failed to beat United during that 20-game period.

They will likely try to use suffocate-and-break tactics again, a ploy which has often delivered against City.

Marcus Rashford is a player who has regularly caused City problems in this fixture. His pace will be a threat but Anthony Martial's speed will be missed - he's another to have reaped rewards against City's defence in the past.

Perhaps Jadon Sancho, finally showing some of the reasons why United splashed £73million on him, can fill that void.

It will certainly be interesting to see who Ralf Rangnick selects in forward areas.

For all his ability, Cristiano Ronaldo won't be able to provide the traits which have previously worked so successfully for United in this fixture. The German has been prepared to leave Ronaldo out in the past...

Handicap play the way to go

For me, City look short enough at 1.44 and are potentially worth laying on the Exchange around that mark. That's essentially backing United and the Draw in the double-chance market.

United are a tempting 8.4 to win the game and continue that trend for away-day joy.

However, I prefer to get with Rangnick's side on the Asian handicap where they can be backed at 2.06 on the +1 & +1.5 (+1.25) line.

Here you'll make a profit even if United lose by one goal - and they haven't lost by more than that margin since Solskjaer's final game, the 4-1 defeat at Watford in November.

Just as interesting is City's (relative) struggles to put the best teams away.

Chelsea, West Ham, Spurs, Wolves, Southampton and Crystal Palace have all won this bet so far this season at the Etihad, with Arsenal the only side in the top 11 to take a hammering here - and that was the day they spent the majority of the match with only 10 men.

Don't expect a goal-fest

In four of those six 'winning' examples, there have been under 2.5 goals. That's something that has also landed in the last six Manchester derbies so 2.46 about it occurring again does look tempting, especially for those looking to create a big-match Bet Builder.

City struggled to break down Everton's defence last week and United have made improvements in that area under Rangnick.

However, my other bet on this game comes in the card markets.

Punters' Silva lining

Bernardo Silva is a player who tends to get wound up for these big games

and it's reflected in his card record.

He's received three cards in his six league starts against United but it's also worth noting his record of four in six competitive starts against Liverpool - City's other huge fixture in recent times.

1280 Bernardo Silva Man City.jpg

This term, the Portuguese has five cards in his 26 Premier League starts.

The 5.5 available on the Exchange about Silva being shown a card certainly looks too big and even if that amount gets snapped up, the 7/2 on the Sportsbook is worth taking.

Michael Oliver isn't the most card-happy referee but he has produced 13 cards in his three previous Manchester derbies, with Silva among those players he booked in the reverse fixture in November.

Opta fact

Manchester United are unbeaten in eight Premier League games, the longest current run without defeat in the competition (W4 D4). They've opened the scoring in seven of these eight games, with the other finishing 0-0.

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