The past couple of seasons have been tough for Manchester United, but there was light at the end of last year’s campaign. In fact, many respected pundits tipped the Red Devils to be right at the top of the tree along with Manchester City and Liverpool.

However, after a shaky start to the Premier League season – they lost to Crystal Palace at home and needed a late, controversial penalty to beat Brighton – the likes of the Daily Mail say they are miles of making a title challenge, which is where City are likely to be.

The question on everyone’s lips is, can United match their neighbours?

The verdict from online casinos
Even after a strong finish to end up in the Champions League spots, the questions surrounding United’s defensive frailties haven’t been answered. It’s no wonder bookies like Betsafe Online Casino have them at much longer odds than their local rivals to lift the trophy.

Under Solskjær, they conceded thirty-six in 2019/20, one more than City, whereas they have let in five already in two games season. The problem lies with the lack of recruitment (more on that later) and David de Gea’s poor form, with the ordinarily reliable keeper having his worst seasons statistically for United in the previous two campaigns.

The standard attacking stats
Rashford, Martial and Fernandes get lots of plaudits, with several people assuming that United have a razor-sharp front three. Yet compared to City’s last season, one of the worst they’ve had under Guardiola, they were a long way behind their rivals.

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For example, the offensive line-up for United created fifty-four big chances and scored sixty goals. City, on the other hand, made one-hundred-and-seven chances and scored one-hundred-and-two goals. For United to keep up this year, the players on the pitch must become more creative and convert their opportunities to rein in Man City.

Mediocre recruitment
Of course, the biggest failure for United is off the pitch. Jaden Sancho, the main target for this season, seems to be staying with Dortmund, while if the rumours are to be believed, the Old Trafford outfit missed out on Bale and Reguilon too. It’s misleading to listen to every name slated to be on United’s wishlist, yet there’s no doubt that uncertainty over Ed Woodwood’s ability as a CEO is creeping in with the Stretford End faithful.

In the last three or four years, only Bruno Fernandes can be classed as an instant success, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also liked. Other than those names, there is little evidence of aptitude in the transfer market, and the same can’t be said for City.

The best bet
Only time will tell whether United can challenge City now and in the future. But a good way to gauge the atmosphere is to analyse what the bookmakers think of their chances. City started as firm favourites, even after Liverpool cruised to their first title in two decades in 2020. Still, they have dropped after a poor start, as the Live Bet at Betsafe highlights, and the confidence in them isn’t as high. Of course, it’s worth noting that at their worst, City are second-favourites to win the league, with United fourth behind Chelsea.

The excitement before the season was high. Yet a mixed start combined with little-to-no activity in the transfer window means that bookies, experts and fans all seem to think Guardiola’s men are too strong for the former champions.