Manchester City vs. Manchester United odds, preview, and pick
Two bitter rivals will square off on Sunday (11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN), as Manchester United travels across town to face their “noisy neighbors” – league-leading Manchester City – in the 185th Manchester Derby.
The Citizens are clear favorites to win, with the match expected to see at least three goals.
Sun, March 7 2021, 4:30 PM
Can anybody derail the Manchester City freight train?
Manchester City is putting together one of the most dominant seasons in the history of European football. They have not failed to walk away with a victory in any match in nearly three months, spanning back to a 1-1 draw with West Brom on December 15. They are unbeaten in their last 27 matches across all competitions as well.
Through 41 matches this season, they have lost just twice, the last being a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham on November 21. They have taken all three points in their last 15 Premier League fixtures, and currently sit 14 points clear of Manchester United with just eleven matches remaining for both clubs. A win on Sunday would see them go 17 points clear, and would put them no more than five victories away from clinching the title – a number that would remain the same even with a draw.
City are not only winning, they are dominating. They have kept clean sheets in 13 of their 20 victories, and have not conceded more than once to any team during their 27-match unbeaten run. Offensively, they not only dominate possession and pin teams deep, but they create more chances per match than any team in Europe by a wide margin.
Even when teams park the bus against them, they are able to pick the lock with Pep Guardiola’s interchanging style of play. Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan help conduct the orchestra, while the inverted runs of Joao Cancelo from his fullback position help overload the midfield and cause chaos from all directions.
Despite the lack of a “pure” striker with Sergio Aguero out injured, City have shown an ability to find the back of the net no matter how staunch a defense they face. They have scored multiple goals in all but two of their last 14 matches. With Manchester United keeper David de Gea returning to Spain for the birth of his child, the City attackers will be licking their chops at the thought of testing Dean Henderson and United’s questionable back line.
Title hopes all but over for Manchester United
That lead for Manchester City could be cut to 11 points if the Red Devils were to walk away with a victory on Sunday, but few feel that it would be anything more than delaying the inevitable. Still, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refuses to concede that their title chances have slipped away, despite taking just 11 points of a possible 24 over their last eight matches.
United have just one victory in their last five matches, a run that began with a late implosion against Everton in a 3-3 draw. That match also saw Paul Pogba go off injured, ending what was one of the best runs of form he’s had since joining the club. He played very well against Manchester City in their 0-0 draw in December, a match that saw United pinned in their end of the pitch for large periods of the game.
Without Pogba, the United attack has seen even more struggles to create over the past few weeks. Bruno Fernandes has been missing in action in 2021, with just three assists and five goals in 12 matches. Three of those goals were penalties, and two of the three assists came in a 9-0 win over Southampton where they had a man advantage for all but two minutes. Against the “Big Six” this year, he now has just one penalty and no assists in 720 minutes of play.
Last weekend against Chelsea, United continued their struggles against “Big Six” teams, as they set up to not concede and were limited to hitting long balls to Marcus Rashford in the hopes of stealing a goal on the break. The tactic worked to prevent the defeat, but draws will not be enough for United to finish second, much less prevent City from walking away with the trophy.
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Manchester United have gone unbeaten in their last 21 away fixtures in the Premier League, a competition record. They have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven away from Old Trafford, and the total has gone Under 2.5 in six of those matches.
Who will win the 185th Manchester Derby?
United have been level on the scoreline at both half-time and full-time of their last four away matches in the league. They have failed to score a goal in their last three matches in all competitions.
The last five matches between these two in all competitions have seen fewer than 2.5 goals. Manchester City have seen more than 2.5 goals scored in five of their last six Premier League matches, however.
The reverse fixture saw City running a side that featured Fernandinho in midfield rather than Gundogan. Since swapping the former for the latter, Guardiola’s side have been much more efficient at picking teams apart.
1. Manchester City - 21 wins in a row in all competitions— Phil Cadden (@pjcadden) March 3, 2021
2. Manchester United - 21 games unbeaten away from home in the Premier League
Two achievements of sorts but a major difference in quality, ambition and mentality.
Meanwhile, United come into the match with just one goal all season in seven matches against the “Big Six” in the Premier League. Given the absence of Pogba and Bruno’s poor form, there is little reason to think they will be a threat to City going forward.
This is a matchup of United’s unbeaten away run against City’s 20-match winning streak. Last week, United parked the bus and survived Chelsea’s overwhelming possession to eke out a scoreless draw. Manchester City will not waste the chances that the Blues did. United’s unbeaten away streak will be steamrolled by the freight train that is Manchester City, as they take one step closer to regaining their place atop the league.