With eight games remaining in the Premier League season, Manchester United sit 15 points clear of cross-town rivals City at the top of English football, with it only a matter of time before the Red Devils are crowned champions. The Manchester derby on Monday night is irrelevant; United will win the league regardless of the score in one game. However, with local bragging rights, pride and a bit of revenge on the agenda, the Reds will be hungry for victory.
United have won 25 of their 30 Premier League games this season and rightly go into this encounter as favourites, with odds of 2.15 for a home win; City are 3.20 to upset the apple cart and claim victory. The game will mark the first time that City have returned to Old Trafford since their 6-1 victory over United back in October 2011, and Sir Alex Ferguson will be keen to put the record straight.
The last time the teams met, United won a five-goal thriller at the Etihad Stadium 3-2, with Robin van Persie scoring the all-important winner at the death. The Dutch striker has netted 19 times in the top flight this year, despite a recent dry spell in front of goal. Despite this, the former Arsenal frontman is favourite to get the first goal on Monday, with odds of 6.50. Wayne Rooney comes in at 7.00, while City duo Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez are both back at 7.50.
With the attacking talent on show, it seems likely that there will be goals in the game, and the last five encounters between these teams in all competitions has seen an unprecedented 23 goals. Roberto Mancini has a point to prove and will send his team out to try and control possession and score goals, while Sir Alex will urge his side to come out of the blocks with all guns blazing. This should lead to a glut of chances; odds of 2.90 for there to be more than 3.5 goals seems like a smart bet.
3-2 has been a score that has popped up on regular occurrence of late in this derby, with United winning by this score in the Premier League earlier in the season, in the FA Cup last term and in last season’s Charity Shield. Odds of 21.00 for the game to end 3-2 to United, or 26.00 for it to be 3-2 to City are on offer.
The United players would have loved an opportunity to clinch the league title mathematically in this game, but a victory will well and truly hammer home their dominance over their rivals. City will know in their heart of hearts that they will be relinquishing their Premier League crown, but will hope to regain some pride with a victory at Old Trafford.