There was a time when Manchester derbies had a huge say in the destination of the Premier League title. The past two seasons haven’t held as much importance, but as the first clash of an unpredictable 2015/16 looms into view, there is a sense that it could once again be pivotal.
Although Manchester City are Ladbrokes’ clear favourites to be this season’s champions, they travel to Old Trafford ravaged by injuries and find themselves 17/10 outsiders to claim early local bragging rights.
United, something of an enigma with their swaying performances, are rated at 6/4 on home soil and should view City’s visit as a golden opportunity to reaffirm their title credentials following their 3-0 shoeing by Arsenal.
Without Sergio Aguero and David Silva in the Citizens squad, and fitness concerns over their left-backs, it is no surprise that Ladbrokes News’ Mix and Match XI for Sunday’s encounter is won by the Red Devils.
Despite those Citizens injuries, the fact United only claim a slim victory – six representatives to five – illustrates just how far they remain behind their neighbours when both squads are at full strength.
Both teams have defensive absentees, but it’s United that fill most of our back five. David De Gea pipping Joe Hart is the toughest call, while Antonio Valencia ousts a declining Pablo Zabaleta and Matteo Darmian covers left-back better than Bacary Sagna. In the middle, Vincent Kompany is joined by Chris Smalling.
Fernandinho has overcome his second-season syndrome to become key for Manuel Pellegrini thus far and when he plays well, it usually allows Yaya Toure to hold greater influence in games. Their partnership is far more solid than the rotating door that is United’s central midfield.
The three spots behind the striker see Kevin De Bruyne fill the number 10 spot over the sluggish Wayne Rooney, with the all-round goal threat of Juan Mata and Raheem Sterling preferred to Jesus Navas and Memphis Depay respectively.
Up front, few can argue with Anthony Martial’s selection over Wilfried Bony.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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