Manchester United (+240) vs Manchester City (+110), Draw (+255)
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for!
Manchester United hosts Manchester City on Sunday (December 10th) for what could be the most important Premier League match of the 2017-18 season. There are quite a few storylines at play; most notably, it’s a clash between the two top teams in the English top flight. It’s also the new battleground for the Jose Mourinho-vs-Pep Guardiola rivalry, as the managers continue a feud from their El Clasico days. And, as always, it’s a fight for the heart of Manchester.
United boast a perfect record at home this season, yet Bovada still has them as the underdog for the upcoming derby. Are Man City really good enough to march into Old Trafford as the favorites?
Recent Record and Form
It’s not even Christmas and already the crown of English football has “Manchester” penciled in. Man City (14-1-0, 43 points) lead the Premier League by eight points while Man United (11-2-2, 35 points) trail in second place. In third sits Chelsea, who have a slim shot at the title with 32 points.
Man City are currently on a 13-game win streak in the league, winning every match since their 1-1 draw to Everton in the second fixture. Their record on the road is as good as it gets — seven wins in seven games — and that includes a decisive 1-0 victory over Chelsea.
Manchester United have lost two away games to Huddersfield and Chelsea, but at home, they have been rock solid. They’ve been on a four-game win streak since losing to Chelsea last month.
It’s a classic match-up: a team with a perfect record at home against a team with a perfect record on the road.
Record Against the Top 6
Manchester City have made easy work of the other title contenders so far. They demolished Liverpool 5-0 early in the season, beat Chelsea 1-0, and recently ran through Arsenal with a comfortable 3-1 win. They’ll face Tottenham in the coming weeks, but given the form Spurs are in right now, they don’t have much to worry about.
Manchester United haven’t been as impressive against the top English teams. They drew 0-0 to Liverpool, lost 1-0 to Chelsea, and scraped a late 1-0 win against a Harry Kane-less Spurs. Their recent 3-1 win against Arsenal is their only emphatic win against a top-six side.
Mourinho has a well-deserved reputation for getting results against top teams. However, against Liverpool, he slowed the game to a halt and seemed content to grind out a 0-0 stalemate. He may take a similar approach on Sunday.
Injuries and Suspensions
Paul Pogba needlessly incurred a red card during the 3-1 win over Arsenal last week, and will miss the next three games. Man United have been forced to play without their star midfielder for a good part of the season so they won’t need to make many adjustments. However, Pogba adds something to the Man U lineup that no other player can replicate. With the 24-year-old on the pitch, United have won seven games, drawn one, and lost none. Without him, they’ve only won four, drawn one, and lost two.
United will probably be looking to counter-attack City, and that’s going to be tough without their main playmaker. In sunnier news, aside from Pogba’s suspension, Mourinho doesn’t have any other absences to worry about. There aren’t any notable injuries or major fitness issues within the squad.
Guardiola still has a few battered defenders nursing injuries. John Stones isn’t expected to return until after Christmas and Benjamin Mendy could be out until mid-2018. It’s nothing Guardiola can’t deal with, though. Even without Stones and Mendy, City still have one of the best backlines in the league.
Pick: Manchester City (+110)
Both City and United have mid-week Champions League games. Man U hosts CSKA Moscow while Man City travel to meet Shakhtar Donetsk. Whatever the outcomes, both clubs are guaranteed a spot in the Round of 16 and will likely qualify at the top of their groups. Their main focus this week will be on the Manchester derby.
It’s hard to pick any English side over Manchester City at the moment. It’s not just that they win, it’s how they win. Even when they’re a goal down, you can’t help but feel that a comeback is inevitable. Guardiola has taken some of the best players in the world and created a team that is even greater than the sum of its parts.