No club is as adept at turning disaster into delight as Manchester United, and with Manchester City seeking fresh bragging rights having seen them lose two in a row, they will need to show that skill once again at the Etihad Stadium…
Though Manchester United lifted the Community Shield at Wembley, Manchester City have won the last two high-profile encounters between the Premier League’s top two, neither of which they held home advantage in.
However, a trip to the Etihad Stadium could be just what the champions require to reassert their authority in the fixture because for once, the pressure is heaped on the so-called noisy neighbours.
They are the holders and 11/10 favourites, whereas the Red Devils are 13/5, their biggest price to win the derby in decades.
And the short journey across the city will hold no fear for them either despite Manchester City’s fine record as hosts, for they have triumphed on two of their last four visits, their sole defeat coming in the first leg of a Carling Cup tie they prevailed in.
As disappointing as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have been of late, they are closer to the top of the table than they were a month ago, because Manchester City have been wobbling too, stumbling in three of their last six matches.
Those struggles have been forgotten because of a 3-0 victory over Liverpool, but of that team Kolo Toure and ever-present brother Yaya, who scored, are expected to be absent and Gareth Barry is banned, limiting their midfield options.
Manchester United will be desperate, whatever the result, to avoid anything like the embarrassment endured in the 6-1 loss at Old Trafford, and on recent form, Roberto Mancini’s men are lacking the artillery to cause such damage again.
They have scored one goal or fewer in four of their last six, firing blanks in two of their last three, so under 2.5 goals appears the way to go at 5/6.
It is also worth noting that the visitors have kept clean sheets in each of their last three away league clashes with their rivals, hinting that 10/3 is a generous price on a repeat. They are 5/1 to win to nil.