THE BALANCE of power in Manchester hasn’t often swung between red and blue.
From Matthew Busby in the fifties and sixties through to Sir Alex Ferguson dominating the Premier League era, success is ingrained at Manchester United, who last summer became English football’s most trophied club.
20 league titles, three European Cups, and plenty more besides, United fans have long been used to not just having the bragging rights in the city, but across the country.
Manchester City fans have had to wait patiently as their neighbours celebrated – they went 35 long years after lifting the 1976 League Cup until their next piece of silverware.
While United celebrated a treble in 1999, City were visiting Wrexham and Colchester United in the third tier, with Manchester undeniably red.
Less than two decades, and a couple of billion pounds spent later, the colour of the city isn’t quite so clear ahead of this Sunday’s derby.
Pep Guardiola’s freewheeling blues sit top of the table, with a record in sight.
They’ve won their last 13 matches, with victory this weekend drawing them level with Arsenal for the most consecutive games won in Premier League history.
We’re still only in December, but there are already whispers of another Gunners record that could fall – the mythical unbeaten season.
Guardiola appears to have moulded his team exactly how he wants it, with the intricate passing and fast-paced attack reminiscent of his all-conquering Barcelona side.
They also appear to have a knack well-known at Old Trafford, winning tight games over Feyenoord, Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham with goals in the 88th, 84th, 96th and 83rd minutes respectively.
Forget ‘Fergie time’ – we could be in the era of ‘Pep time’.
United created history of their own this week – their Champions League win over CSKA Moscow was their 40th consecutive unbeaten home match, equalling a 51-year old record.
While the Red Devils sit eight points behind City in second, Jose Mourinho will be all too aware there is a very long way to go.
Victory this weekend will blow the title race wide open, and after the Portuguese has masterminded impressive wins over Tottenham, and at Arsenal last weekend, he’ll be more than ready to take City on.
United will likely approach this as an away game, soaking up pressure before using lightning pace on the counter.
It’ll be a high-risk strategy given City’s array of attacking talent, but given the way they have struggled to break down lesser sides in recent weeks, Mourinho may well back his charges to hold on, even into Pep time.
It’s almost incredible to see United at 5/2 for a home league game, especially considering that lengthy unbeaten run and Mourinho’s big-match pedigree.
I advise taking that price with 188BET.
Guardiola did rest most of his big hitters for Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk, but the City squad will still have to cope with the fatigue of travelling to and from Ukraine midweek.
While they have the record in sight, I think this will just be a game too far for the league leaders.
While 2011’s infamous 6-1 City win is still within recent memory, games between these two rarely deliver goals, with just five in the last five meetings.
It’s a general evens for under 2.5 goals here, which I suggest backing.
Man United - 5/2 (188BET)
Under 2.5 goals - evens (General)