It’s just too close to call in title decider

It is likely to be a hard fought contest between the two Manchester rivals

GAMES simply don’t come any bigger than this. Sir Alex Ferguson has said that Monday’s Manchester derby is the most important in his 26-year reign as Manchester United boss. The cross-city rivals have dominated the Premier League this season and whoever wins will be in the driving seat with just two games to go.

Roberto Mancini says he believes the title race is over, but his Manchester City side have now reduced the gap from eight points to three. It has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks and if United throw the title away they only have themselves to blame having dropped points against Wigan and Everton in the past couple of weeks.

The Red Devils were hammered 6-1 in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford in October, but they bounced back to beat their local rivals at the Etihad Stadium in the FA Cup third round. City’s home form in the league has been nothing short of outstanding, though, dropping only two points all season.

Coral have City as the 6/5 favourites and although I think they are the most likely winners, that price is just too short. If they were 6/4 I’d back them, but this is going to be a very tense game and United should never be underestimated in situations like this. Ferguson has no equals at dealing with pressure and he knows that a draw is enough to virtually guarantee his team another title.

I can’t suggest backing United or the draw at 5/2, but both teams to score at 8/13 with Paddy Power looks fair enough. City have to win and, while United would obviously settle for a goalless draw, they are very dangerous on the break and an early goal from either side wouldn’t be a surprise.

What would have a big impact on the match is a red card and that was the case when Jonny Evans was sent off in the 6-1 defeat and Vincent Kompany in the FA Cup loss. Sporting Index will be quoting bookings around the 70-point mark and that is one of the highest quotes all season. Both teams will have to keep their discipline and if anything I’d probably look to sell that quote.

However, a better spread betting option might be Sporting Index’s recently introduced substitute player goal minutes market. Carlos Tevez could start on the bench and if he does I’d be tempted to buy his substitute goal minutes. There is little downside to this market and another who could be of interest is Michael Owen, as he always has the potential to grab an important late goal.

QPR did this column a favour last week when beating Tottenham at 14/5 with Coral and I fancy another home side to cause an upset this weekend. Norwich have slipped a little in recent weeks, but they won at White Hart Lane on Easter Monday and although they have little to play for, you can be sure they’ll be going all out to beat Liverpool tomorrow evening.

Kenny Dalglish’s side have been a massive disappointment in the league over the past couple of months and they will already have one eye on next week’s FA Cup final. They were beaten by West Brom last weekend and I couldn’t even dream of backing them at 21/20 with Coral. The Canaries are 4.0 on Betfair and that looks really good value.

■ Pointers…
Both teams to score at 8/13 with Paddy Power
Buy Carlos Tevez substitute goal minutes (if starts on the bench) with Sporting Index
Norwich at 4.0 on Betfair