The Premier League title is on the line when Manchester City and Manchester United do battle on Monday night.
Boylesports are offering Bettingpro readers £40 in free bets ahead of City v United
A matter of a fortnight ago we were contemplating the possibility of this game being the match where Manchester United would be crowned champions. It could still, effectively, work out that way, but this is now a title decider in almost every possible sense.
For those of you unaware of the permutations, they are as follows. A United win would put them six points clear with two games to play, a City win would put them on top by virtue of goal difference and a draw would leave Sir Alex Ferguson’s side with a seemingly comfortable three point buffer.
So the visitors would be happy with a draw, while City simply have to win. It promises to be a nail-biting cracker.
When City went to Old Trafford and hammered United 6-1 earlier this season it looked as though Roberto Mancini’s side would march towards the title. And for a long part of the season they did so, before the pressure told and they faltered to hand their city rivals the advantage.
The Red Devils then pulled eight points clear and those – myself included – who thought City would win the title comfortably a couple of months earlier were now etching United’s name into the Premier League trophy for a 13th time.
Seemingly, no matter how much experience you have, pressure can still take its toll.
Manchester City will assess the fitness of Micah Richards prior to the game, but the defender is the home side’s only injury concern. Mario Balotelli is available again having served a three-match suspension, although it seems unlikely that he will start the game.
United’s personnel problems are considerably more substantial with Nemanja Vidic, Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Paul Pogba and Anders Lidegaard all long-term absentees. Michael Owen is back in full training and working on the idea that he could be required to play a part in the title race, but any appearances for the 32-year-old are likely to be from the substitute’s bench.
It’s difficult to say which group of players will be feeling the pressure most going into this one, but it was interesting to see City tighten up again when they faced Wolves following United’s slip-up against Everton. In previous games against Norwich and West Brom, with the title seemingly out of their grasp, they’d reverted to the free flowing football that served them so well in the opening part of the season. But with the pressure on, to an extent, against Wolves they looked nervy and indecisive at times.
For that reason alone I cannot back City to win at odds of 6/5 this Monday. And with the draw a result that is so heavily stacked in United’s favour I feel that we should also keep that onside too, making United at odds of 6/5 in the Draw No Bet market the logical bet.
Although City’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford is the most memorable of recent meetings, these two teams have in fact met three times this season; once in the FA Cup and once in the Community Shield, in addition to the league match. With those three matches producing a total of 17 goals I feel we also need to be backing Over 2.5 goals at odds of 4/6 and Over 3.5 goals at 7/4 here.
Games this big don’t come around very often. For us neutrals it is likely to be a thrilling match with plenty of excitement. But spare a thought for those in Manchester, who’ll be living every second of every moment. Tensions will be at an all-time high in the city and beyond.
Man Utd Draw No Bet @ 6/5
Over 2.5 goals @ 4/6
Over 3.5 goals @ 7/5