By the far the most eye-catching match in the FA Cup 3rd round is the clash of the Manchester giants. With City riding high at the top of the League, how will United respond, given their own poor form of late? The football world will be watching on Sunday, but where is the money going?
Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 @ William Hill)
Manchester City responded in positive fashion to the 1-0 away reverse at Sunderland, by beating Liverpool comfortably at the Etihad Stadium last time out. The win maintained a 100% home record in the league, with 10 wins from 10. Those wins have come about with the Citizens scoring an averaging of over 3 goals a game. With just 4 goals conceded, the 23/20 about the hosts is certainly worthy of attention.
The problems for City however, started to gather as soon as Gareth Barry was shown a red card during the closing stages of the Liverpool clash, meaning he misses this 3rd round tie. The news that the Ivory Coast national team had not granted permission for Kolo and Yaya Toure to remain in England for Sunday’s clash compounded the selection problems for Roberto Mancini. With Sami Nasri also struggling with flu, even with the colossal resources at City’s disposal, the squad is genuinely stretched for this one.
The Red Devils has suffered two shocking defeats since closing the gap on their rivals in the League. The home loss to Blackburn was poor, but the makeshift defence and Rooney discipline issues were trotted out by way of explanation. The 3-0 humbling at Newcastle however was quite different. Rooney and Ferdinand were both back, but the performance was still far from a title winning standard.
With huge questions being asked of United, this tie may have come at the right time. The pressure of the League campaign can be put to one side in favour of a one-off derby, where form can, to a degree, be overlooked. While Vidic, Smalling and Evans are all certain to miss the tie, another patched up back four looks on the cards. With that in mind, any thoughts of a cagey away performance seems unlikely – Sir Alex Ferguson simply does not have the personnel to consider it.
With City depleted, and United on the ropes, solid organised defending does not seem likely. Mancini has lost the midfield ‘screen’ which has served him so well with both Barry and Yaya Toure missing, and while gaps in the back four can be plugged, those midfield roles look decidedly harder to fill. United have not been able to boast any form of defensive solidity of late and if these two decide to go toe-to-toe, goals look likely. The 10/11 about Over 2.5 looks solid enough.