Derbies are always a massive affair in football. Beating your nearest rivals is a must. There are bragging rights to be had, after all. The Manchester Derby may not be the fiercest and most hate-fuelled local derby going, but there’s plenty of needle, alright.
Manchester United and Manchester City face off for a Manc showdown on Wednesday night in what could well prove to be absolutely pivotal in what is the tightest race to the Premier League crown in some years. A win for City sees them cement their hopes of retaining the title. But a slip-up? Well, that gives advantage to Liverpool.
This is no dead rubber for United, though. They need to win to stand a chance of bagging that all-important fourth spot and the final Champions League place that goes with it. So this really is the biggest Manchester derby in years…
When and where?
The Etihad tie already took place on November 11th of last year (City triumphed 3-1). So this game is due to take place at the stadium formerly known as The Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford.
The 75,000-seater stadium will be hosting United vs. City on Wednesday the 24th April. Kick off is at 8pm.
Nothing can be formally or officially decided by the game. But it may still prove to be huge, depending on what happens…
City win – The expected result is Pep’s team getting the three points. That would take them back to top spot and in pole position to win the title yet again. It would also heavily dent the rapidly fading hopes that United have of finishing in that all-important fourth spot, leaving them needing a strong finish and other sides to slip up.
Draw – A point apiece pleases no one. Both sides need the win here. A draw leaves United in the mix for fourth, but hands Liverpool a huge advantage in the title race (something neither club really wants…).
United win – Cat meet pigeons… Pigeons meet cat. A win for Solskjaer’s men gives them impetus and a real chance at a Champions League spot. It also firmly puts the title within Liverpool’s grasp, meaning City will need to hope Liverpool lose one of their (fairly easy) final games…
Man Utd have Luke Shaw back, but the gurning boat race of Phil Jones is likely to be unseen after the clumsy centre back picked up a knock in their woeful Goodison Park showing at the weekend. Herrera, Bailly and Valencia could also all miss out. Ole’s expected to shake up the line-up from the last one he named. For rather obvious reasons.
City don’t have much to worry about in terms of player form, but they did face a blow this week on learning that Kevin de Bruyne is out for the rest of the season through injury. So Pep & Co. will have to make do without their Belgian midfield ace.
As we’ve alluded to, United got a drubbing from Everton in their last outing. 4-0 is not a good score, especially given how the wheels have fallen off since Solskjaer took over full time. Defeats in the league and a comprehensive two-legged thumping by Barca – while playing some truly terrible football – has many Red Devils’ fans wondering if Mourinho hasn’t sneaked back into the dressing room.
City, on the other hand, are in fine fettle. They were knocked out of the Champions League by Spurs in dramatic fashion recently though, of course. Although they did avenge that somewhat by then beating their European oppressors Spurs in the league immediately afterwards. Their league form is imperious.
How to watch it
In the UK, the Mancunian Derby will be shown live and exclusive on Sky Sports (Premier & Main Event). If you’ve not got Sky or you fancy a little atmos with proceedings, head out to your local Rileys. We’ll be showing it all live on our huge TVs.
Head to head
The two teams have faced each other 177 times in all competitions in their histories, with United winning 73, City winning 52, and the other 52 matches finishing as draws.
The Premier League era has United on top, but that’s rapidly changing. There’s little debate as to which club is currently more dominant. City have won the last two meetings between the bitter foes at Old Trafford.
The odds here are significant. As far as any of as can remember, United have been favourites to beat most teams on home turf. Not so now. In fact, they have quite astronomical numbers here. They’re 6/1 to win!
That’s worth repeating: Manchester United are 6/1 to win a home game in the league.
City are just 2/5 to win, with the draw priced up at around 4s with most bookies.
We’re not going to surprise you here – we’re backing a win for Manchester City. With the amount of attacking threat on the pitch and a response needed from the red half of the city, we’re going for a goal heavy 3-1 win for the away side. You can find that at 10-1.