Manchester derby promises goals

BEN CLEMINSON PREVIEWS THE MANCHESTER DERBY AND ASTON VILLA AGAINST TOTTENHAM

AWESOME attack undermined by dodgy defence: both managers have the same problem to solve in Sunday’s Manchester derby.

Manuel Pellegrini has admitted he is “worried” by his team’s form. In little over a week, Manchester City threw away a two-goal lead to hand CSKA Moscow a 2-2 draw in the Champions League, were defeated 2-1 at West Ham and, most recently, conceded twice again on Wednesday evening when losing 2-0 to Newcastle in the Capital One Cup.

Those displays have been littered with lapses and City cannot afford any more against Manchester United – they are already six points in arrears to a rampant Chelsea.

If their backline was in better shape then I wouldn’t have any doubts about Sergio Aguero and Co. firing City to a fourth victory in a row against United.

They don’t look the same team that hammered their neighbours 7-1 on aggregate last season and they will be nervous if United make a good start.

United’s problem is that even if they do make a good start, they can’t be trusted to build on it.

They might have an attacking unit to rival any on the planet, but Louis van Gaal is struggling to get any consistency out of a lop-sided line-up that offers little safety at the other end of the pitch.

United have kept only two clean sheets this term – against Burnley and Queens Park Rangers, the Premier League’s bottom two sides.

Over the last three seasons, the top flight meetings between the sides have generated an average of exactly four goals-per-game. I expect we’ll see at least that many again here so wouldn’t put anyone off buying total goals at 3.3 with Sporting Index.

A goals bet is particularly appealing as the game looks a bit closer to call than the prices suggest.

City are rightly favourites – and I think they will edge it – at 10/11, compared to United at 10/3, although it is a game that really could go either way, with the visitors buoyed after getting a point against Chelsea last weekend when many expected them to lose.

Furthermore, with so much attacking talent on display, venturing into other markets, such as first scorer or correct score, looks like stepping into a minefield.

Should there be at least a couple of first half strikes then there could be the option to cash out at half-time to lock in a profit.

And if there isn’t, be patient. In the six most recent league clashes previously mentioned, seven of the goals have come in the first half and 17 in the second.

■ Pointers…
Buy total goals at 3.3 with Sporting Index