Despite neither making the most convincing start to the season, Manchester pair City and United are both in the top five, just three points adrift of Liverpool at the Premier League’s summit as they prepare for the first derby showdown of the campaign.
Obviously, as recent appointments, neither manager has taken charge of a Manchester scrap before but City boss Manuel Pellegrini presided over a couple of El Clasico contests when with Real Madrid while David Moyes was Everton chief for plenty of Merseyside battles so the pair are no strangers to such passionate clashes.
It looks like they’ll start on a level playing field then but aided by home advantage, Pellegrini’s troops are nevertheless Paddy Power’s 6/5 favourites while United are a 5/2 chance with BetVictor at Eastlands.
The champions appear a touch overpriced considering the two sides have yet to hit full stride and they certainly tempt at 7/10 via bet365 to avoid defeat. However, in the circumstances, it’s the stalemate at 12/5 (Skybet) that stands out and in a contest that looks set to yield fewer than three goals (21/20, Stan James), Winner.com’s 6/1 marked against a 1-1 scoreline isn’t without appeal.
Finally, in attack, speculating on the first scorer is something of a minefield given the number of realistic candidates so the shrewd might back Robin van Persie at 11/8 with Ladbrokes to strike at any point. Stan James quote City’s Alvaro Negredo at 2/1 in the same market.
There’s also a West London derby on the agenda this weekend and Chelsea are 2/7 with bet365 to bounce back from last weekend’s loss at Everton by seeing off Fulham. The Blues kept clean sheets in both meetings between the two last term and as Jose Mourinho’s troops have been pretty solid defensively so far, they’re cracking value at 13/10 via betway to defeat the Cottagers ‘to nil’. Alternatively, a 2-0 home victory is a 6/1 shot at BetVictor.
At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal are home bankers at 4/11 (Stan James) as they take on Stoke City, despite the visitors’ decent start and Ladbrokes chalk the Gunners up at a generous 7/1 to bag the only goal. At odds of 13/2 courtesy of BetVictor, another team that can rack up a 1-0 triumph is Liverpool, who tackle Southampton. The Reds have registered that scoreline twice at Anfield already and the league leaders are a safe-looking 1/2 with bet365 to rack up another win.
In South Wales, William Hill price Tottenham at 10/11 to edge out Cardiff and Skybet rate them at 11/4 to do so by a one-goal margin while Everton, buoyed by their victory against Chelsea last weekend, can also prevail in a close affair against West Ham; Stan James making them 7/5 chance at Upton Park.
Finally, it’s 12/5, this time via William Hill, for Crystal Palace and Swansea to inseparable, Paddy Power offer 5/6 about a third straight Newcastle win as they host Hull and BetVictor quote West Brom at 21/20 to send Sunderland home empty-handed.