I’m really looking forward to presenting the Manchester derby on Sky Sports on Sunday live from Old Trafford. After their meeting in the Community Shield at Wembley, both clubs started the season brilliantly and we are now set for the 161st Manchester derby – the 145th in the League, which is like no other that has gone before.
This is their first ever meeting with both Manchester teams going into the game as the top two sides in English football. City are top of the table and to show how lop-sided competition in the city has been, this is only the third time in Premier League history that Man Utd have faced Man City when City have been ahead in the League table.
Can they stay there? City’s impressive win against Aston Villa saw them shorten again on Betdaq to 3.35 to win the title, while United are out to 3.35 after their point at Anfield last weekend. Chelsea still hover dangerously under the radar but remain third on the list at 4.2, which all means we have the first ever Manchester derby with the teams as the top two in the betting to win the Premier League.
On the match itself, Manchester United are 2.12, Manchester City 3.9 and the draw is a 3.5 chance. It’s not difficult to see why United are firm favourites. They are on an incredible run at Old Trafford having won 73pts from a possible 75, have not lost at home in the League since April, and have extended the club record of consecutive league wins at home to 19. United have lost only one of the last 32 meetings at home with City in all competitions, winning 20. United are unbeaten in the last six Premier League meetings, winning five.
City’s last PL win was 2-1 at Old Trafford in February 2008 – Darius Vassell and Benjani with the goals for Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side. City have won only once at Old Trafford in the last 37 years.
However, this is a very different City side to the teams that played in those lean years. On paper it is probably a stronger side than United’s but they still have two big questions to answer. First, do they have the team spirit, unity and desire to win that seeps through every United player’s pores? Second, what will Roberto Mancini’s tactics be? In last season’s big games Mancini set his team up to be hard to beat and stifle the game. It will be fascinating to see if he does the same again with Nigel de Jong in front of his back four and flooding the midfield. Team news is going to be crucial. If de Jong, Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry all start in midfield, I’ll be on the draw at 3.5 and a 0-0 scoreline at 12.5.
We’ll be live from 1pm on Sky Sports HD1 and in Sky 3D. Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville will be my guests.
This weekend I fancy Bolton at 2.29 to beat Sunderland (3.55). I’m a big fan of supporting the home side in matches between sides in the bottom half and I’m sure Bolton’s form at the Reebok will improve.
Rugby World Cup Final
What a shame that rugby union’s showpiece event looks set to be very one-sided, with the All Blacks only trading at 1.94 giving France a 16.5pt head start. If only it was Wales. Pundits are describing France as the worst World Cup finalists ever, which seems harsh as they are capable of putting in a big performance, but they should be no match for the All Blacks.
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