Sir Alex summed up the importance of United game against City at the Etihad when he called it “a derby of amazing proportions… probably the most important in my time”.
The Red Devils go into the game three points clear of their arch rivals having thrown them a lifeline after blowing a 4-2 lead against Everton through some uncharacteristically shoddy defending.
If they had beaten the Toffees the title would be firmly within their grasp.
Now they have to raise their game again and try and extend the gap at the top once more.
Never has so much hinged on a meeting between the two clubs, and bookmakers make City favourites to come out on top.
Roberto Mancini’s men are a top priced 2.25 with Paddy Power, with the draw a 3.5 chance (Boylesports) and a United victory chalked up a a rather large looking 3.5 with Boylesports.
It’s a pressure game and United have proven track record of being able to raise their game and get the desired result when the chips are down.
That it is major asset in a game in which two of the three possible outcomes heavily favour United:
*If City win it’s all level with two games to go, but their goal difference significantly better and they are in the driving street having at one point trailed by 8 points.
*A draw would mean that United would need four points from their last two games to win the title, regardless of what City do. A victory against Swansea in their next match would clinch it if City fail to win at Newcastle.
*A win for United and the title is all but in the bag, with just 1 point needed to seal it.
So in effect it is a game which ideally United would love to win, but more importantly cannot afford to lose.
It will therefore be interesting to see what tactics Sir Alex employs. Will he adopt European style tactics and try and grab a goal and keep things tight or keep to the tried and trusted route of playing their normal free flowing football?
The former could well be a dangerous route given that City’s striking power, and given that their have been 12 goals in two meetings between the two sides I think that normal tactics are likely to be the order of the day – with the proviso of keeping things as tight as possible at the back.
As far as head-to-heads are concerned United have won 67 of the 161 matches between the clubs since they first met in the old Division Two in 1894. City have 44 victories, with 50 draws.
City have also failed to score in their last three Premier League games at home to United. They drew 0-0 last term, having lost 1-0 the previous two seasons.
As far as betting on the game is concerned I am all most United fans and just want them to do the job, regardless of who scores or what the final score is.
However it’s my job to try and come up with a few punts for those that like a bet on United so here goes.
I do think that United are a big price at 3.5 to win this. It’s the biggest price they have been all season and that’s surprising given that they are still top of the pile and in the driving seat.
They also have no injury worries going into the game, and a player in Wayne Rooney who has scored 16 times in his last 14 appearances.
Wazza has also scored 8 goals in 16 Manchester derbies, and given that he is also the penalty taker the 7.5 on offer with bet365 to net first looks a decent price as does the 2.88 with Paddy Power for him to score anytime.
I think that there will be goals, and fancy United to win either 3-1 or 3-2.
The former is a 26 chance with bet365 and Betfred, while the latter is 29 chance with the same two firms.
*bet365 have a special free bet offer for the game. If you place a pre-match bet they will give you a free In-Play bet to the same stake.
To qualify you simply place a bet before kick-off, then once the game starts place another bet on any In-Play market. If your FIRST In-Play bet loses they will refund this stake, up to the same value as your largest pre-match bet (max £50).
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