The Man United v Man City game is bigger than you think, and here’s why

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Manchester City and Manchester United will meet each other for the third time this season (including their EFL Cup clash back in October) on Thursday night. But this is undoubtedly the biggest game yet for both sides.

Why? Because by our reckoning, the winner will go on to secure a top four spot.

Currently one point behind their noisy neighbours, the Red Devils know that a win will see them climb into a Champions League place for the first time since the fourth week of the season.

Do that, and they’ll likely stay there.

A win would work wonders for United, who’ll then play Swansea City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Crystal Palace in their final five games of the season.

It’s a big ask, but victory over City will leave them heading into that final quintet of league fixtures confident of picking up points from everyone.

However, a defeat on Thursday means we could be looking at a completely different story.

That would see City some four points clear of their rivals, who face a much easier run-in against the likes of Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion and Watford.

All of a sudden, defeat on Thursday for Jose Mourinho’s men leaves them with a mountain to climb, and that fixture list looks too difficult to get enough points from to leapfrog their rivals into the top four.

But they do have one card up their sleeve – the Europa League.

Now faced with a two-leg semi-final clash with Celta Vigo, United know that European glory guarantees them a place in next year’s elite competition – the Champions League – regardless of where they finish domestically.

Of course, City will be fully aware of this, so their aim will be to prevent United from having the last laugh at the end of the season.

To do that, they’ll need to end the season in third-place – a target made all the more realistic following Liverpool’s collapse against Crystal Palace this weekend.

The permutations are endless, but one thing is for sure: Thursday night’s Manchester Derby is absolutely huge.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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