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Generous early Xmas gift offered in Man Utd odds to beat Shakhtar

When was the last time that Manchester United’s odds were better than 1/1 to win a Champions League home game against opposition that cannot be considered to be one of Europe’s ultimate elite?

Ahead of entertaining Shakhtar, this could be deemed a sign of just how far the Red Devils have fallen in recent weeks, especially after successive Premier League home defeats against Everton and Newcastle.

However, it should be deemed that this price of 23/20 on Man Utd beating Shakhtar at Old Trafford is an Xmas present that should be gleefully accepted, unwrapped and profited from a few weeks early. Coral are also offering the best price on this result.

Inconsistency has been the major feature of Man Utd’s Premier League start, as they have only won back-to-back top-flight games once under David Moyes and have already been beaten three times at Old Trafford.

Yet in Europe, the Red Devils have certainly got their act together in terms of results, confirming qualification from Group A with a game to spare and avoiding defeat so far in what was regarded post-draw as a challenging group.

There are clear similarities between Moyes’ first season in the Old Trafford dugout and that of Rafa Benitez at Liverpool in 2004/05, when he went on to lift the Champions League.

Domestically, Liverpool never really threatened and eventually finished fifth. After 15 league games, they only had 24 points to sit seventh in the standings, with Man Utd currently having 22 to lie ninth.

Although respected, Shakhtar’s current team is arguably a rung below that which won the UEFA Cup in 2009 and then fell to Barcelona in the Champions League quarter finals in 2011.

Shakhtar have also never won on their previous five trips to England, while Man Utd are looking to advance through the group stages with a 100 per cent home record for the first time since the 2007/08 campaign.

Their away form in general in the Champions League is far from dominant either, winning just three of their last 10 on the road in the competition, including 3-0 and 4-0 defeats in their last three.

Shakhtar are 5/2 in the Champions League betting to beat Man Utd, which would guarantee them a place in the knockout rounds, with the draw offered at 12/5.

Man Utd may already be through, but the need for a confidence-boosting victory will ensure that the game won’t be treated in the same manner as their final group game 12 months ago, when they were beaten 1-0 at Old Trafford by Cluj.

On that occasion, Scott Wootton, Nick Powell and Alexander Buttner all started, with Federico Macheda coming on as a second-half substitute.

Aside from the match betting markets, Wayne Rooney found the net in both of his previous games with Ukrainian opposition in victories over Dynamo Kiev and he is 1/1 to score at any time in the 90 minutes again.

Meanwhile, in all of Shakhtar’s last nine games in all competitions and five of Man Utd’s last seven, there have not been goals from both teams. Both teams not to score at Old Trafford is priced at 5/4.