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Clash of the titans in Manchester – Maybe

Think of the big derbies and the first words that come to mind are intensity, passion, fouls, cards (yellow and red). Perhaps the last word you will think of is ‘goals’ and yet that is what tomorrow’s Manchester derby promises – goals and maybe plenty of them.

Since the year the Premiership began, City and United have produced, on average, almost exactly three goals per game in all competitions, which is a healthy return in a contest where the first rule is to not give the opposition an inch. And within that broad statistic are recent clashes that will live long in the memory: Michael Owen’s late, late winner in United’s 4-3 win in 2009, City’s incredible 6-1 massacre at Old Trafford in 2011 and the Robin Van Persie injury time free-kick at the Etihad last year which secured a 3-2 victory and sent the Red half of Manchester into raptures.

That last game was generally considered to be the Premiership match of the season in terms of quality (another word that isn’t often associated with derbies). And though both teams have begun the current campaign less than totally assured, there are signs that this could be another classic.

Coral go 11/10 City, 5/2 United and 12/5 the draw and this is a game you can see going either way, so much depending on who converts the chances when they are presented and which side gets the breaks.

City have goal threats from everywhere, half a dozen you can well imagine scoring the opening goal, apart from the obvious candidates Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero (both 5/1).

United, on the other hand, are this year relying very much on their twin strike-force of Van Persie (4/1) and Wayne Rooney (6/1) and how much would Reds’ fans love to see their favourite Scouser reproduce that wonderful match-winning overhead kick that settled the Old Trafford game in 2011 – another moment of real derby quality.

The away side look good value to me. They weren’t always impressive against Bayer Leverkusen in midweek, but they did score four goals (and it should have been more) and also gave the impression that everything is beginning to bed down nicely again after the summer disturbances.

For those looking for history to repeat itself, Coral go 33/1 a United 3-2 win and 125/1 they edge it 4-3, while it’s 200/1 another 6-1 City blitz.

Maybe the three goals per game average will be maintained and if United are to nick it, that adds up nicely to a 2-1 win for the visitors at an attractive 11/1.

Written by Jon Freeman