Have Betfair punters lost their marbles? Reds backers won’t believe their eyes when they look at the Match Odds on Tuesday night’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg.

Manchester City should never, ever be favourites to beat United and odds of 2.88 (15/8) on an away win at Eastlands are amongst the best you will ever get on a Reds’ victory. After all, in the 34 years since City last won a trophy, United have collected 25 major honours.

City’s favouritism – at odds of 2.7 – is an example of the fickleness of football bettors. United don’t have the best record across town, they’ve endured a couple of horrific humblings there, but they’ve won half of their fixtures at Eastlands and there’s little to suggest that they won’t triumph on Tuesday.

City have had a decent few weeks but Roberto Mancini came unstuck at the weekend, against the first decent opposition he’s met. A tactical duel against Sir Alex will provide him with a rude awakening in English football.

Betfair’s To Qualify market reminds us that form is temporary and class is permanent, with United as 1.87 (5/6) favourites to reach a second successive League Cup final. You can appreciate that logic, but if United can beat City over two legs, they can beat them over 90 minutes on Tuesday.

There’s never been a draw between United and City at Eastlands and this suggests that punters are right to have the draw priced as the least likely outcome at 3.45. However, two-legged ties require a different approach and neither side will want to go to OT at a disadvantage. Back United to win at 2.88 but back the draw too at 3.45.

An explosive game is anticipated. City will do the early running, while United sit back, soak up the early pressure and subdue the crowd. If United’s defenders can keep Carlos Tevez quiet, a frenetic first half could end 0-0. The Reds will not underestimate his threat but the big-boned Argentine will run out of puff as the game goes on and United’s midfield takes control. Back Draw/Man Utd at odds of 7.0 (6/1) in the Half-time/Full-time market.

The league meeting at Old Trafford in September featured seven goals and that, along with City’s gung-ho reputation, means that Over 2.5 goals can be backed at 2.02 (evens) . But United will be happy with a narrow victory, Dimitar Berbatov is likely to sit this one out and City are missing two strikers.

We could see a cagier affair than anticipated so have a small stakes wager on Under 1.5 goals at 3.75 (11/4) and back 0-1 in the correct score market at 10.5 (9/1). Wayne Rooney’s excellent record against City shows that he can tear apart the Blues’ dodgy back four alone. Back him in the first goalscorer market.