Draw on the cards in the Manchester derby


Monday, 8pm

AT THE start of the season most observers would have had the second Manchester derby of the campaign down as a potential Premier League decider.

However, since then, both teams have done their best to ensure it is anything but.

Even a heavy defeat for Manchester United on Monday night will not derail their title charge, thanks to the 15-point lead the champions-elect have accumulated over their noisy neighbours.

Should Manchester City manage a win it would go some way to compensating for what will ultimately be considered a poor season, having again performed so feebly in Europe and with little chance of defending their Premier League crown.

Lifting the FA Cup, though, remains a strong prospect with whichever side prevails from City’s semi-final against Chelsea set to face the winner of Millwall and Wigan.

In fact, City are a far shorter price, at 13/10 with Coral, to do that than they are, at 5/2, to win at Old Trafford on Monday night.

United, who are 5/4 with Coral, have only dropped two points since Christmas – when they drew 1-1 at White Hart Lane in January – and have claimed a total 25 maximums from their 30 outings, including seven on the bounce in the top flight.

But United’s performances haven’t always been as good as those results suggest and they have been blighted by the recent cup disappointments against Real Madrid and Chelsea. I give City a far better chance than the odds suggest.

Although their goal difference is inferior by 10 to United, City have the tightest defence again this term.

Roberto Mancini said at the turn of the year that his club’s failure to sign Robin van Persie could be the difference between the sides and he looks to have been proven correct.

The Dutchman has scored 19 times in the Premier League – seven more than Edin Dzeko, City’s leading scorer.

One of those was the decisive strike in the corresponding game at the Etihad in December, but Van Persie is on a nine-game dry run in a United shirt. Meanwhile, partner in crime Wayne Rooney is struggling with a groin injury.

Everything points to a low-scoring contest and I don’t think either side would be devastated with a draw.

That outcome is available at 23/10 with Paddy Power and is worth an investment.

This contest has witnessed plenty of goals over the years – there were 18 in four fixtures last campaign alone – but this one should be tight and I’d have a nibble on no goalscorer at 12/1 with Coral. Sporting Index have priced total goals at 2.8-3 and spread bettors are encouraged to sell.

■ Pointers…
Draw at 23/10 with Paddy Power
No goalscorer at 12/1 with Coral
Sell total goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index