The biggest Manchester derby is almost upon us and the city is buzzing as the Premier League trophy remains set to keep residence up North. MM takes a look at the best bets available in the run-up to this season-defining clash of Manchester’s finest.
With the Premiership title race perched so delicately this game could be a season-maker or a season-ender for both the red and blue side of Manchester. Sir Alex has described it as the biggest derby of his 25 year reign in the Old Trafford hot seat.
A win for United would almost certainly guarantee the trophy stays in their burgeoning trophy cabinet, and gain revenge for their 6 - 1 drubbing in the reverse fixture.
Maximum points for the Citizens would put them top on goal difference and leave them just two games from their first-ever Premier League title.
“It's the biggest Manchester derby in years and could well be a winner takes all match for the Premier League," says Paddy Power spokesman Darren Haines.
"However, with a tricky trip to Newcastle yet to come for City they won't be completely home and hosed.”
The firm offers an attractive 5/2 for the Blues to win the derby and the title race, and with City having won 16 of their 17 home league games this campaign, this could interest a few punters. They are 5/4 just to win Monday night’s clash.
United won here in the FA Cup in January and punters can get 5/2 with BetVictor for another away triumph over their arch-rivals.
If United can grab anything from the Etihad on Monday, it’s hard to see where it could go wrong for them in the final two games.
Gameweek 37 will see City face the difficult challenge of Newcastle away, while United will entertain notoriously-poor travellers Swansea.
The final day of the season sees the Blues face a QPR side fighting for their life at the wrong end of the table and in contrast the Reds will make the trip to the North East to take on a Sunderland side with nothing but pride to play for.
A trip to the Stadium of Light to face Martin O’Neill’s charges was, until a month ago, a daunting prospect but with the campaign fizzling out for a Black Cats side containing a number of ex-Utd charges, it’s hard to see anything other than three points for United here.
Interestingly, SkyBet rate both City and United as 13/8 shots to be crowned as next season’s Premier League winner.
As for the derby itself, this is one of the most difficult games of the season to call. While there is a lot of value for battle-hardened United to edge out their less-experienced neighbours, the smart money will go on the goals market.
City need to win this fixture at any cost and will throw hundreds of millions of pounds worth of attacking talent at an United side living off the club’s reputation.
Despite the Reds managing six clean sheets in their last eight games, they are stumbling towards the finish line and games like this tend to dismiss the form book completely.
Few will need reminded of the classic 6-1 game at Old Trafford what seems like an age ago, and with City’s array of talent up-front versus a United defense that looks far from convincing, PaddyPower’s 2/1 for over 3.5 goals looks even more appealing than Balotelli's girlfriend, Italian model Raffaella Fico.
There is, however, always the risk of a game like this failing to live up to the billing, and odds of 9/1 for a 0-0 draw are available.
The first goal-scorer market rates Aguero at 6/1 to open his side’s account, with free-kick wizard Kolarov a tempting 20/1. Danny Welbeck, fresh from an impressive display in United 4-4 draw with Everton, is 8-1. Rooney is 6/1 and Manchester Derby veteran Paul Scholes is at 20/1.
If football was at the mercy of Hollywood scriptwriters then Carlos Tevez would score the winner in a 1-0 victory against his former employers, a 28/1 chance. If that doesn’t appeal, he’s 9/5 with PaddyPower to score anytime, as is Rooney.
In a week of high profile penalty misses, the same firm offer 17/2 for a penalty to be missed and just 15/8 for one to be awarded.
Card-happy Andre Marriner will be the man in the middle for this clash and you can find 7/4 on BetFair for a red card to be dished out. If Balotelli is, as rumoured, to feature in the game I would imagine these odds will be slashed.
If none of this is enough to tempt the hard earned cash from your wallet, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that the bookmakers tend to be the only winner in games like this anyway.
MM will be bringing you all the action during Monday’s derby from 7.30pm with a live blog throughout.