The two teams at the top of the Premier League face off in the FA Cup on Sunday in what should be an absolute belter of a game.
There’s no Premier League action this weekend but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to get excited about as the League Champions, Manchester United have been drawn against the current FA Cup holders, Manchester City in a classic FA Cup third round clash. While Manchester City are the current FA Cup holders the most successful club in this competition's history is Manchester United, who have lifted the trophy 11 times compared to Manchester City’s five. The sportsbooks and the soccer odds makers reckon this will be a Blue day as they have City at 11/10 to win this match and United at 5/2. There is the chance of a replay if the game ends tied (available at 12/5) and the sportsbooks have City at 4/6 to qualify while United are 5/4.
This one game is actually bigger than the FA Cup
United have won 67 of the meetings while City have won 44 and there have been 50 draws. You might also like to know that the largest margin of victory in a Manchester derby has been by five goals, something that has occurred four times. You may remember that City beat United 6-1 earlier this season and they won by the same scoreline in 1926. This time round a 6-1 to City is at 250/1 (worth a pound) and a 6-1 revenge win to United is at 200/1 (likewise). Both teams have also enjoyed 5-0 victories over their local rivals, it was all about United in 1994 and City did the same way back in 1955. Those little bits of history being repeated are at 300/1 for United and 150/1 for City.
To put this match in some perspective, City are 7/1 to win the FA Cup while United are right behind at 8/1. Those odds will change dramatically once this fixture is decided so get down the bookies sharpish.
This time last year Manchester City needed a home replay against Leicester City to progress to the next round. Their first game was drawn 2-2 but city won comfortably at home 4-2. If you fancy history repeating itself a 2-2 game is at 14/1. However I do feel that this game will be decided on the day as home advantage is too much of an advantage for City to let slip. This time last year United beat Liverpool 1-0 at Old Trafford but that was a close game and such a low scoring encounter in the Manchester derby FA Cup Third Round is at 17/2. Don't forget that the last time these clubs met in this competition, in last year's semi-finals Manchester City were 1-0 winners as they booked their place in the final, that score is available at 13/2.
Worries for both sides
The holders of the trophy will have to make do with a somewhat depleted squad following Gareth Barry's suspension, the Ivory Coast's refusal to allow the Yaya and Kolo Toure to turn out for the cup clash (which would delay their link-up with the national squad ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations) and what’s more; Mario Balotelli is out with an ankle injury.
United have fewer injury concerns but their out of character form will be a worry to fans (Manchester City are a much stronger team than both Blackburn and Newcastle, the last two teams to beat United). While Sir Alex refuses to panic or panic buy following his team's dip in performance he has conceded that the advantage in the league lies with City (soccer betting has City at 1/2 to win the Premier league and United at 157/50 at time of press). I'd expect the grand gum chewer to concentrate forces on a good cup run, starting with a defeat of City and although it may have been inconceivable that United would lose at home to Blackburn and then away to Newcastle it surely is beyond any comprehension that they could lose three games back-to-back.
Looking at the last five head-to-head meetings, it’s honours even with two wins and a draw apiece and an average goal tally of (just over) three per game. However that does include a 0-0 and a 1-0 in games from 2011 and 2010. What's more telling is the goal tally from the last two meetings between the clubs. Who could forget the seven goal stunner where City inflicted that memorable victory over United at Old Trafford earlier this season and the Community Shield that ended 3-2 to United back in August.
The game ending low is at high odds with a goalless match at 9/1, over 1.5 goals is at 2/7 and over 3.5 is at 23/10. I’m backing plenty of goals in this game and a United victory at the Etihad Stadium.
Prediction: A big victory for United and the game ending over 4.5 goals at 19/4.