IT has been a poor couple of weeks for Manchester City with Roberto Mancini’s men winning just one of their last five games. To add insult to injury, Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 win in midweek ended their participation in Europe altogether for the season.
The outcome will have been a bitter blow to the club’s hierarchy and is likely to pile added pressure on the Italian and his men going into Sunday’s derby with Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium.
Not only are they three points behind their local rivals in the title race, the attacking flair that led them to a first league title since 1968 last term has been lacking this time around. Joe Hart, previously unflappable, has become more erratic, while Vincent Kompany’s formerly solid defence has been breached with regular ease.
Ironically, their opponents this weekend have encountered a number of similar problems. Sir Alex Ferguson can’t decide whether David de Gea or Anders Lindegaard is his first choice between the sticks, and United’s back four has been nothing short of shambolic this term.
The Red Devils have gone behind in 14 of their games so far and if they repeat the schoolboy errors from the 4-3 victory over Reading last Saturday, then the likes of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez could rip them to pieces.
Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have developed a flourishing partnership up front for the visitors and the former’s involvement will add another interesting sub-plot given that the Dutchman reportedly chose United over City when he left Arsenal in the summer.
Both managers also know they have serious firepower on their bench with Javier Hernandez and Edin Dzeko the only two Premier League players this season to score at a rate of less than 100 minutes per goal.
However, while the memory of City’s 6-1 demolition job over United at Old Trafford last season is still fresh in the mind, it’s worth noting that there have been just five goals scored in the last six league meetings between the teams at the Etihad and no more than one in any of those games.
I fancy another low-scoring game and selling total goals at 2.9 with Sporting Index looks the right call. City are a best-priced 13/10 with Coral but I can swerve that. United haven’t drawn a league game all season yet ending their opponents’ monstrous run of 37 unbeaten home league games will be a tough ask.
Each manager will surely settle for a point rather than risk a costly defeat. Therefore, at 23/10 with Coral, the draw is worth backing, while no goalscorer also appeals at a massive 14/1 with Coral.
Draw at 23/10 with Coral
No goalscorer at 14/1 with Coral
Sell total goals at 2.9 with Sporting Index