Enda McElhinney's best bets for the Manchester derby include a brace for Erling Haaland at Old Trafford.
Just six points separate these Manchester rivals going into their Old Trafford showdown, but it could easily be more, with City having lost at Wolves and Arsenal before the international break, while United edged Brentford and Sheffield United either side of that Premier League hiatus.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won four of the last five derby collisions, including the FA Cup Final at Wembley in June, and they should once more have the local bragging rights come Sunday evening.
Erling Haaland to score 2 or more goals @ 10/3
Anytime Score – 0-2 Man City @ 17/10
Diogo Dalot to be booked @ 2/1
Haaland should cause fear for Red Devils
Erling Haaland famously announced himself in this fixture with a hat-trick at the Etihad last season on an afternoon when team-mate Phil Foden also bagged three goals. Man United relied on a late double from Anthony Martial just to take some embarrassment off the scoreline.
To their credit, Erik ten Hag’s side would come from behind via goals from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford in a 2-1 win when they met here last season, but they then lost the cup final at Wembley as City went on to complete the treble.
Haaland has not scored in two Manchester derbies since that blistering intro and some onlookers are suggesting he’s not as lethal as in those opening months of last season.
The Norwegian powerhouse still has nine goals in nine Premier League games, including a hat-trick against Fulham in August.
He was on the scoresheet against Brighton last week and helped himself to a Champions League double in midweek against Young Boys to make it three goals in two games.
United’s defence doesn’t inspire confidence – they have conceded seven times in their last four Premier League games at Old Trafford – and Haaland will punish them if chances come his way.
City to build a lead
Given the attacking option City possess, Ten Hag will not want this to be wide open.
However, his Red Devils have conceded the opening goal in their last four Premier League games at Old Trafford and have found themselves 0-2 down against both Nottingham Forest and Brighton here this season.
That’s also a scoreline they’ve faced at Tottenham and Bayern Munich in recent months, with United compounding the loss of a goal by conceding another within ten minutes on four occasions this season in all competitions. It’s a worrying trait.
The recent wins over Sheffield United and Copenhagen have seen Harry Maguire at the heart of the defence and, while he got the winner in midweek, nothing can mask the fact that the much-maligned 30-year-old couldn’t be shipped out to West Ham in the summer as he seemingly didn’t want to go, and now Ten Hag has had to turn to him.
City are rightfully favourites to win this one at 7/10, but there could be plenty of value instead in siding with them to lead 2-0 at some stage of the contest at 17/10.
Dalot could be in for a tough afternoon
Diogo Dalot is in favour at right-back for United and the 24-year-old was the matchwinner last weekend at Sheffield United as his side limped over the line in what was a frustrating performance.
Dalot’s work on Sunday is sure to be much more focused on defensive duties and he could be in for a torrid time if Jack Grealish gets the nod to start.
The England ace scored in this game last season and, having been out of favour recently, he completed 90 minutes in midweek against Young Boys.
Guardiola may choose to keep him in the side now and, if he does, Dalot will almost certainly be faced with plenty of one-v-one’s as Grealish looks to hit the end line.
Dalot has been booked in games against Burnley and Galatasaray this season and could be in the notebook again now in what is likely to be a stern defensive shift.