When it comes to Manchester derbies at the Etihad, United are the ultimate party poopers.
The Citizens have spent the last few years getting better and better while the Red Devils have largely stagnated. It hasn’t stopped them picking up results in the blue half of the city though.
Despite having a total of just 13 shots across the last three meetings at City’s stadium, the Red Devils have come away with two wins and a draw. Four goals from 13 shots in those matches certainly beats the two from 65 which City have mustered in reply.
What’s weird is that the sky blues have picked up seven points from their last three league visits to Old Trafford too. This has certainly been a fixture for the away side in recent times.
Will this trend continue on Sunday?
Hell no. Or at least, ‘hell no’ if you believe the stats. When you predict a result using expected goal stats, you normally get a 2-1 or 1-1, something like that. Not this time: 4-0 to City using the data from 2018/19, and it’s available at 16/1. Even looking at the data from the last 38 games suggests 3-0 is the most likely score line.
To be fair to the numbers, City could’ve been 3-0 up the last time these sides met, before United got their act together in the second half. But when was the last time a 1-0 win for United, which is priced at 22/1 – 22/1! – was longer odds than their opponents winning 4-0?
Answers on a postcard for that one, please.
City are red hot favourites at 1/3, with the draw 4/1 and United an eye watering 7/1. The home side are just 3/10 to score the first goal, which looks like a smart bet even in light of the skinny odds.
City scored first in all five of their home games against the other big teams last season, while José Mourinho’s side have conceded first in four of their last five titanic clashes on the road.
José’s big problem is that he can’t park the bus in games like these very well any more. His bus should’ve been sold for scrap iron ages ago, if we’re honest.
Since the start of last season, United have conceded eight goals in their six league trips to face the other five top sides. However, the chances they’ve allowed their opponents in those matches have been worth closer to 17 goals.
David de Gea has been their player of the season for four of the last five years, but he can’t bail them out forever. And so it has proved this season, as he has already conceded 18 league goals when it took 25 matches to concede that many in 2017/18.
So, we can be confident City will score, but what of United? Deserved or not, at least they have finally started scoring on the road in big games under Mourinho.
The Red Devils scored just once across their first seven away league matches against the big boys under their current gaffer, but have scored eight in the four games since.
However, City’s defence is so solid at home this season – and was against the big sides last year too – that it’s hard to foresee a United goal.
But for some reason I’m going to bet ‘yes’ in both teams to score, which is available at 8/11.
Anthony Martial is in fine form at present, Marcus Rashford scored the winner in their last league game, and even Alexis Sanchez looks like he might finally be worth £300k a week. They’re paying him closer to £300,000, but it’s a start.
Martial is not the favourite for United in the goal scorer markets, yet none of their players can top his tally of three league goals against other sides from the big six since the start of 2017/18.
So, those City player with more than three ‘big six’ goals. Step forward Gundogan, Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Sané and Sterling. No Aguero? Indeed not, the Argentine has two goals in big league matches over the last year or so.
After scoring seven goals in his first seven league meetings with United, Aguero has gone three derbies without one.
Despite being in decent form – especially at home, where he has 17 goals in his last 13 league games – Aguero has actually scored fewer than his chances suggest he should have this season.
He’s just 8/15 to get on the score sheet, and you’ll get your money back as a free bet on selected markets if he does. He was rested for the Champions League match in midweek too, so he should be fully firing for the derby.
As with any big game, a lot could depend on the referee. Anthony Taylor has replaced Howard Webb as the ref who opposing fans seem to think favours United the most. I can’t think why, when he’s never sent off one of their players and has only awarded one penalty against them in 24 matches.
Conspiracy theorists, you may start your engines. But even if he’s as biased as paranoid fans believe, it’s hard to look past a comfortable home win here.
* All odds correct at time of posting.