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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Top top top teams (from Manchester) go to war

Sunday's football is massive in the Premier League with first & second facing off at Old Trafford & another 4 games taking place including the West London derby between QPR & Chelsea. We've looked at both of the derbies & tried to find an edge in the betting markets although these are the kinds of games to sit & savour even without having a punt.

(Nani's OK by us & we think he can follow up his Community Shield winner with a goal on Sunday)

It would have seemed ridiculous just 3 years ago to anyone but City supporters to say that the Manchester derby would be the biggest match of the season in the Premier League but it certainly seems to be the situation now, with the incredible spending City have undertaken making them true rivals to the team that have dominated English football for the past 20 years in Manchester United. Both sides are unbeaten with City only having dropped points when they blew a two goal lead at Fulham whereas United have drawn twice, both in tough away games at Stoke & last week at Liverpool. Manchester United have an incredible home record, having dropped just two points at home last season & their last home loss came in April 2010 to that year's champions Chelsea courtesy of a controversial Didier Drogba goal. United have genuine stars in Nani & Rooney, both are players who can turn a game in their team's favour instantly & both seem to be best when at home, the 7/2 on offer about Nani to score at anytime looks great with him becoming a real big game player. With Ashley Young looking likely to start after Valencia's recent downturn in form United should have three players who can constantly harass the City defence with runs, crosses & shots from all three from all areas of the pitch. In goal De Gea has started to really show his worth, his performance against Liverpool was his best of the season, & he could be defended by arguably United's first choice back four in this game with Ferdinand, Vidic, Smalling & the always underrated Evra all available.

(United will have to get past a proper defender in Vincent Kompany to score success)

United's weakness certainly seems to be central midfield with Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher & Giggs unlikely to be on many opposing fans wishlists, this is the area that City will try to dominate with ball winners Yaya Toure & Nigel De Jong getting the ball & giving it to the wonderfully talented David Silva & likely starter Samir Nasri. Darren Fletcher often seems to some to the fore in big games & United will need him in this one & many others if his fellow central midfielders continue to fail to sparkle. At the back City are rock solid with Vincent Kompany being one of the world's best central defenders & Joe Hart an excellent keeper, if United are to get at them it may be down the left against Micah Richards who is still not totally disciplined defensively, it was the only are of the pitch United had any joy in midweek with Nani & Evra linking up & overlapping with some regularity. Up front City have a plethora of options but currently only Aguero fully convinces & he is still working back to full fitness, Balotelli is clearly talented but unpredictable to say the least & Dzeko came flying out of the blocks but has stumbled recently, he won't beat Vidic in a physical battle & may lack the pace to trouble this defence. If Aguero plays & is fully tuned up City have a genuine chance here but if not they could struggle to find the goal they surely need just to avoid loss as United look unlikely not to get a goal if they play near the top of their form.

United's home record is of major consideration in this game & if they can play with some of the attacking quality they've shown against Tottenham & Chelsea this year they should be able to score goals against even the meanest of defences, they will have played all of the top sides in the league after this game & will want to get back to the top before they start a long run of eminently winnable games, at 11/10 United look the value. It should be noted that Ferguson has been critical of his side's openness since they went behind after being in a 2-0 lead at half time to Basle in Europe, they could also have conceded plenty in the 3-1 win against Chelsea, but his attempts at Liverpool & Galati to make the team more solid have resulted in somewhat listless performances. Playing 5 in midfield (& importantly without Rooney) against Liverpool meant Danny Welbeck didn't get the service he needed & Anderson & Carrick played far too deep against the Romanian champions Otelul Galati, United are a far less adventurous & much slower side when Carrick is in the line-up which would play into Mancini's hands & the success of our bet could depend on him not starting.

(That will be another booking then Ashley, yeah? And a nice profit for us!)

In the 4 o'clock kickoff Queens Park Rangers face a huge test when they take on in form Chelsea at home in their biggest game since rejoining the top flight. QPR have started to wobble after some impressive performances that lacked a cutting edge, the 6-0 loss to Fulham seemed to come from nowhere & they followed it up with a disappointing draw at home to Blackburn. Chelsea meanwhile have been taking apart weaker teams although have failed in their two tough assignments so far, drawing away to Stoke & losing to Manchester United. Chelsea's 6 league wins have come against West Brom, Norwich, Sunderland, Swansea, Bolton & an out of sorts Everton, there's been nothing wrong with their recent wins, gained in style but it would be unwise to get carried away, they should win this one against QPR who already seem to lack the team spirit they'll need to survive but there's little value in the 2/5 to be had about an away win. The market we're interested in is the bookings with Ashley Cole available at 3/1 to pick up a booking, he's picked up 5 already this season, with 4 coming in the league. At 30 years old & plenty of miles on the clock maybe Cole's legs are just fractionally slower meaning fouls become more likely, whatever the reason one more yellow means he'll pick up a one match ban which he'd serve in the Carling Cup clash with Everton meaning he'd be free to take part in key games against Arsenal & Liverpool - a cynic may even say he has an incentive to be carded!

Manchester United to beat Manchester City at 11/10 (general)
Nani to score at anytime at 7/2 with Paddy Power
Ashley Cole to pick up a booking in the QPR v Chelsea game at 3/1 with Skybet

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