The lunchtime kick off on Sunday gives Manchester City a chance to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at West Ham as they line up against city rivals, United, on home soil, looking to make it four Premier League wins in a row over The Red Devils.
Louis Van Gaal’s new look Man U team have not registered an away win this season, and United have failed to win away from Old Trafford since March, a 4-0 victory at St James Park, Newcastle, under David Moyes’ tenure as manager, being the last occasion.
Pellegrini’s City side will be involved in Capital One Cup action midweek against Newcastle, and could be slightly jaded coming into this Derby clash if their first XI is not rotated sufficiently after difficult trips to Moscow and East London within the last week and a half. The Sky Blues’ next three fixtures could shape the destiny of their season as they look to progress in the League Cup, stay within touching distance of Chelsea at the top of the table (with a win in this game), and then secure all three points against CSKA Moscow next Wednesday night if they are to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
United could take advantage of their much busier neighbours, as Van Gaal’s squad’s sole focus is on one competition at the moment, the Premier League. They would have more chance of capitalising on having fresher legs than their opponents if Wayne Rooney were fit of course; the Manchester United Captain is now the leading scorer in these Derby fixtures with 11 goals, and will go straight back into the side from a three match suspension if he can shake off a minor leg injury sustained during his ban.
If not, the team should shape up in a similar fashion to the one that nicked a 1-1 draw with Chelsea last Sunday; Mata, Januzaj and Di Maria will operate behind Van Persie with Blind and Fellaini sitting deeper in midfield. Even though the absence of Falcao and Rooney will limit United’s attacking options, it’s at the back were they still have the most problems. Van Gaal’s defensive organisation is failing to take hold because of his inability to pick the same centre-back pairing for more than two consecutive matches. Paddy McNair and Marcus Rojo are the only central defenders who have played in the following match after starting the previous one together. If Smalling and Rojo start on Sunday afternoon at Eastlands they will equal the record. McNair, Evans and Jones are all central defenders out injured and youngster Tyler Blackett now seems out of favour after a rocky start to the campaign.
Man City’s players may have expended more energy this season but United are vulnerable at the back and lack defensive cohesion, even if they did hold the marauding Chelsea at bay for the whole of the first half. Van Gaal will again, adopt a more cautious approach against this quick and talented City side and we may not see a breakthrough till after the first 45 minutes.
City’s consistent performers this season have been Silva, Milner and the goal machine, Sergio Aguero. The small but powerful Argentine has scored in all the Derby matches he has been fit and available for, and I would back him to find the net here at 1.95 Euro odds or 19/20 UK.
With the opening period of the game likely to be tight, I would go for another bet on Manchester City to be the ‘Team to Score First in the 2nd Half’ at 1.85 Euro odds or 17/20 UK.