Moyes Boys Beware!
Everything seems to be settling down at Old Trafford now after a shaky start under David Moyes, but Manchester United are certainly not yet in a position to start taking wins for granted again, either in the Premier League or the Champions League.
Coral make the Reds 13/10 to beat pointless Real Sociedad on Matchday Four of the Champions League to more or less guarantee safe passage through to the knock-out stages, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion, despite what the Group A table says.
Sociedad, fourth in La Liga last season, made an ordinary start to this campaign, but are beginning to find their stride again. A 2-1 win in Valencia last month was a turning point and they carried on the good work by thrashing Osasuna 5-0 on Saturday.
True, Osasuna are just above the relegation zone and played much of the second half with ten men, but they had been punching above their weight prior to that drubbing, the highlight being when they held Barcelona to a goalless draw – the only side to take points from the champions this season.
Sociedad also gave United quite a bit to think about in the first encounter. An early own goal had the Stretford End rubbing their hands expecting a goal deluge, but it never happened. Instead, the Spanish visitors threatened to equalise on a few occasions, most notably when Antoine Griezmann smacked a post.
Griezmann, one of five different goalscorers for Sociedad at the weekend, is 15/8 to find the net this time (13/2 first or last).
United were pretty devastating against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday while they had the pedal to the metal, but remain unconvincing in the middle and at the back. There are signs that they are getting back into the mix in the Premiership, but nobody’s busting a gut to back them at 7/1 to retain their title.
With Robin Van Persie (9/2 to score first or last, 6/5 at any time) and Wayne Rooney (5/1 and 5/4) up front and firing, United are always capable of giving the opposition a torrid time. They also have Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez to call on, of course, although the Mexican is apparently dropping hints that he might be on his way out if he’s only going to be used as an impact sub.
In the current circumstances, Moyes would probably take a draw in Spain followed by a win against leaders Arsenal in the Premier League next Sunday rather than the other way round and it will be interesting to see whether he goes into this game at absolutely full strength.
But a confident Real Sociedad (21/10) should not be taken lightly on their own patch and I wonder whether United fans might be in for another jolt. 2-1 (10/1) make some appeal.