Manchester City v Manchester United Tips: Back Stones to open the scoring on Derby day
Manchester City will be looking to bolster their title credentials, as well as gaining local bragging rights, when they host rivals Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.
Victory for Pep Guardiola’s side here would extend their winning streak to 22 games and move them 17 points clear of Manchester United, who currently sit in second place, in what will surely be an unassailable lead at the top of the table.
Man City continued their staggering run with a 4-1 victory over Wolves on Thursday with goals courtesy of Gabriel Juss and Riyad Mahrez. However, the pair are not expected to feature from the off here with Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva in line to be rotated back into Pep’s attack.
The visitors capped off a hat-trick of nil nils with another dismal display at Selhurst Park. Their supremo, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, has been known to pull a rabbit out of the hat when it comes to the big games- he did the double over their noisy neighbours last campaign- however, his big hitters have done a disappearing act come the big fixtures this campaign. The bookies clearly don’t fancy an away victory here though, pricing the visitors up at around 6/1.
In the Premier League this season, the traditional Big Six have locked horns 24 times, 63% of these games have seen two goals or fewer.
The visitors have played seven fixtures against the fellow big hitters, 72% have finished 0-0 and 85% have seen fewer than three goals. Furthermore, there has not been a goal from open play in any of Man Utd’s last six head-to-head with the Big Six as they have picked up six points from a possible 21. In these games they have averaged an xG of just 0.68.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side have drawn their last three on the spin 0-0, generating a total xG of 0.94, a total that was bested by both Chelsea and Crystal Palace in their EPL fixtures!
As the Red Devils title charge grinds to a halt, Manchester City’s is in full flight. Pep’s Citizens appeared to be stuttering mid-December as they drew back-to-back EPL fixtures amidst a hectic festive period, however, since then they have flicked into top gear. City have won their last 21 games, averaging 2.6 goals for and just 0.4 against per game!
City’s emphatic attack and solid defence indicates that a victory here should come to nil, however, Solskjær’s contain and counter approach has proved to be deadly at the Etihad in games gone by. Therefore, I have opted for Man City to Win here in a game that will feature three or fewer goals using Bet365’s ‘Bet Builder’ as this covers if Man Utd do manage to get on the score sheet.
Using Betfair’s ‘Same Game Multi’ feature you can combine these clubs' creative catalysts to register two shots on target each at odds of 14/1. The same bet is slightly shorter with Paddy Power, it’s only 10/1 with William Hill and 11/1 with Ladbrokes.
Bruno Fernandes has contributed to 25 goals in the EPL this season, averaging 0.59 goals, 3.04 shots and 1.10 shots on target per 90 minutes played. Granted, he did not register a shot in his side's last fixture, however, that was the first time this has happened in an EPL game he has started since Manchester United’s 6-1 defeat to Spurs. Talk is also rife that he goes missing in the big fixtures and with his only goal in the games against the Big Six this season coming from the spot, you can see why. However, he does not shoot any less, averaging 2.3 shots per game! Since joining Man Utd, he has faced City thrice, accumulating a total of eleven shots with two shots on target landing in the last two.
Since returning from injury, Kevin De Bruyne has been used sparingly but with their season approaching the business end their key man should be thrusted back into the action. In terms of shots, KDB boasts identical numbers to Fernandes, averaging 3.69 shots and 1.03 shots on target per 90 minutes played in the EPL. In his five EPL starts against the big boys this season, he has registered 20 shots in total!
When these sides last met- in the League Cup - Man City emerged victors and the first goalscorer on that day was their centre back John Stones. Since then, Stones has found the net three times as he bagged a brace against Crystal Palace and the winner in City’s last EPL fixture against West Ham.
Given that Derby’s are usually tight, cagey affairs we could see these sides separated by the finest of margins here. I expect set pieces to play a huge part- as they have done in these sides' recent bouts- as five of the last seven goals in this fixture (excluding penalties) have come via set pieces!
With the last six of the sides head to heads averaging just over a goal a game, the first goal here could be the last. Therefore, I think it is worth having a punt on John Stones to score first at 35/1 as the Barnsley boy has proved to be quite the fox in the box since the turn of the year.