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Louis van Gaal is right – Manchester derby win will confirm United as title contenders

23 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Louis van Gaal is right – Manchester derby win will confirm United as title contenders

City's Premier League-winning credentials are guaranteed, but United will overtake them in the table with a victory at Old Trafford on Sunday

Louis van Gaal says Manchester United will be title contenders if they beat Manchester City on Sunday.

He is not wrong – a win will take them above the Premier League leaders in the table, after all.

That will not happen, though, if his players repeat their lethargic performance against CSKA Moscow in midweek.

Another clinical display like the one at Everton last weekend, however, and they have an excellent chance.

Impressive one game, ordinary the next – that is the paradox of United under Van Gaal.

But United’s record against their closest rivals under the Dutchman is impressive, especially at Old Trafford.

They are unbeaten from five home games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and City – winning three and drawing two – while the 4-2 victory over the latter in April remains the best result of the manager’s tenure.

That arrested a four-game losing run against their neighbours and the Red Devils are 13/8 to claim all three points again on Sunday.

To achieve that, a spirited performance is needed from the one-time boy wonder Wayne Rooney, who will make a generation of football supporters realise their own mortality by turning 30 the day before.

Plenty was made about his subdued display in Russia on Wednesday, but the United captain did enjoy his strongest performance of the season at Goodison Park a few days earlier, finishing confidently when running on to Ander Herrera’s through ball.

Rooney relishes games against City – his 11 goals in Manchester derbies is more than any other player – and the player who is one strike away from becoming the Premier League’s outright second highest scorer is 9/1 to notch first in a home win.

Unlike United, City’s title-winning credentials are guaranteed.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have not kept a clean sheet for eight matches in all competitions, but porous defending matters little when the forwards are hitting teams for five and six.

The Champions League win against Sevilla was their fourth in succession – a fine run which also includes victories against Borussia Monchengladbach, Newcastle and Bournemouth at an aggregate score of 15-4.

In the absence of Sergio Aguero and David Silva, the combined nine-figure outlay on Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling has been money well spent.

De Bruyne’s last-minute winner in midweek was his fifth for the club – an amount Sterling also reached after scoring the first hat-trick of his professional career against Bournemouth last week.

The 20-year-old England international was thwarted several times by David De Gea in his last appearance at Old Trafford for previous club Liverpool, but his finishing has improved since swapping Merseyside for Manchester and he is 11/2 to score any time in a City win.

If that happens, it will be the club’s 50th in Manchester derbies.

Prior to last season’s defeat, the visitors had won on their three previous trips to Old Trafford and they are 7/4 to make it four in five on Sunday.

The caution and tension that often inhibits other derbies, meanwhile, has been pleasantly absent in this fixture.

In the last 10 meetings in all competitions, 41 goals have been scored – four goals on Sunday is 9/4 – while none of the last 12 have ended as a draw.

City lead that particular head-to-head 7-5.

But a victory on Sunday will move United to six and, more pertinently, prove to Van Gaal that his team are capable of winning the league.

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