The Manchester derby is one of the most important games of the season for both Manchester clubs. However, with Champions League qualification on the line, Thursday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium is make or break for both Manchester City and Manchester United. Read on for some insight into who will win this crucial top four decider.
Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho often take centre stage when their two clubs meet but all eyes will be fixed on the pitch for Thursday’s Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United. A win for the Citizens and Champions League qualification is all but assured. A win for United and the race for the top four will go down to the wire.
Live odds for Manchester City vs. Manchester United
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A stop-start season vs. steady progress
Despite the opposing managers not grabbing the headlines in the build-up to the Manchester derby, it has to be said that it is the tactics employed by Guardiola and Mourinho that has defined both Manchester clubs' success (or lack of) this season.
Manchester United are currently on the longest unbeaten run in the top five leagues of European soccer (23 games).
Guardiola has persisted with the passing style he became known for at Barcelona and took with him to Bayern Munich, but it has taken longer than expected for those tactics to work in the Premier League - Manchester City still leads the league in average possession (60.3%) and pass success (85.2%).
Conversely, Mourinho has adopted a safety first approach with Manchester United and built from the back. The Red Devils haven’t been the most entertaining team to watch this season, yet have proven to be very difficult to beat - they have lost the fewest games in the Premier League this season (3) but also have the most draws (12).
The difference in defence
With a similar goal difference and just one point between the two sides, you could be forgiven for thinking Manchester City and Manchester United have a similar record this season. However, a closer look at the statistics shows just how different the two teams are.
Manchester City has scored 13 more goals than Manchester United (1.97 goals per game compared to United’s 1.56) but they have conceded 11 more (conceding, on average, 0.35 goals per game more than Thursday’s opponents).
Despite both sides playing with contrasting styles and having different strengths and weaknesses, Thursday's result could be all that separates them at the end of the season. Manchester City might have the edge in terms of success in recent years, but it is United who dominate the head-to-head record - City have won three of the last ten, United six and there has been just one draw.
Where is the value?
The old cliché of form going out the window for a derby is certainly applicable when analysing the odds ahead of Manchester City vs. Manchester United. The home side is coming off the back of a demoralising FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, while Manchester United are currently on the longest unbeaten run in the top five leagues of European soccer (23 games).
Ibrahimovic has contributed to (scored or assisted) 44% of Manchester United’s Premier League goals this season.
The much-publicised injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic has undoubtedly made Manchester City a stronger favourite ahead of Thursday’s clash - Ibrahimovic has contributed to (scored or assisted) 44% of Manchester United’s Premier League goals this season. All things considered, Jose Mourinho would most likely take a draw if it were offered to him before the match.
While the Citizens might have to make do without the creative influence of David Silva, the talents of Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero should cause the Red Devil’s depleted defence plenty of problems. Both teams will look to keep things tight in such a crucial match, but over 2.5 goals at 1.877* looks to be the most obvious bet to make.
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