Manchester City were rampant on the road last season in several matches although it’s a different story this time around, with Roberto Mancini intent on making his team difficult to beat. While that strategy hasn’t worked in the Champions League, nine wins and six draws have occurred in their fifteen matches to give them an unbeaten start. Can this continue when Manchester United come to the Etihad?
Meanwhile, West Ham look overpriced to claim a successive home win when they entertain a Liverpool side missing Luis Suarez, while Everton v Tottenham also promises to be an exciting match, with the Toffees hoping to leapfrog their opponents and back into fourth place.
Manchester City v Manchester United 13:30
The Red Devils are the top scorers home and away in the Premier League although Sir Alex Ferguson has been appalled by some of his team’s defending on the road this season, with twelve goals conceded in eight away games including three at Reading and two at Southampton.
However, the United attacking prowess has got them out of jail on more than one occasion, even if Norwich and Everton have both claimed 1-0 wins against them and Manchester City will be confident that they can repeat last season’s scoreline at the Etihad Stadium where the game was won by a solitary Vincent Kompany header.
City might be completely out of Europe but it could serve them well in the long-term while their Manchester rivals are battling it out in the Champions League, with the bookies offering a best price 13/10 (Boylesports free bets) that the champions go top on goal difference by winning the derby, the irony of which won’t be lost on either manager.
Mancini’s men dropped points in their last home match against Everton and were fortunate to earn a penalty in that game, with Carlos Tevez likely to be on spot-kick duties against his former club and there will be no failure to celebrate should the ex-United forward find the back of the net.
On the one hand, the way United defended at the Madejski Stadium makes you think defeat could be on the cards in this match although Robin van Persie brings verve to the visitors’ attack and Mancini clearly wanted the Dutchman at the Etihad before the former Arsenal striker instead chose to sign on the dotted line at United.
RVP is a 6/1 chance to score the first goal of this match and he will be flanked by Wayne Rooney who has scored a special goal or two in these Manchester derbies. There’s every possibility that Mario Balotelli could feature at some stage of the game and perhaps he has a t-shirt lined up for a celebration after a “Why always me” effort at Old Trafford last term.
Everton v Tottenham 15.00
Andre Villas-Boas has been determined to treat the Europa League seriously this season and named a strong line-up for Thursday’s match against Panathinaikos despite the fact that a trip to Goodison Park on Sunday represents one of Spurs’ toughest away games of the season.
It’s entirely possible that Tottenham and Everton will be tussling for fourth spot at the end of the campaign, especially with Arsenal in the doldrums, and the Toffees could gain the upper hand if their opponents are still immersed in European competition.
One big plus for David Moyes’ men on Sunday is that Gareth Bale will be missing for the visitors and that explains why Everton are a best price 11/10 (Paddy Power free bets) to beat their London opponents, although it’s not been easy landing maximum hauls at home for the Merseyside club.
Despite sitting sixth in the table, it’s been just two wins from six since that opening 1-0 against Manchester United and they do seem somewhat over-reliant on Marouane Fellaini to score their goals despite the Belgian claiming he prefers to operate as a defensive midfielder.
You might have had 14/1 about Fellaini scoring first when the season started although he’[s now among the favourites every week and is 7/1 to break the deadlock on Sunday, although Tottenham have plenty of exciting midfielders who can find the net themselves.
This includes Clint Dempsey who helped Tottenham beat his old club Fulham and perhaps the American will start to be among the goals on a regular basis after nearly completing a move to the red half of Merseyside in the summer before switching to White Hart Lane.
West Ham v Liverpool 16.00
Backing Liverpool this season has not really been a profitable excursion, with the Reds having won four of their fifteen games although there are clearly plenty of people who want to back Brendan Rodgers’ team and the bookies make them favourites to win at Upton Park.
That is despite the Merseyside team winning just one of their seven road trips and although that 5-2 win at Norwich was emphatic, it owed a lot to the form of Luis Suarez who is actually suspended for the weekend trip to east London and his absence is sure to leave Liverpool short of numbers in attack.
The Uruguayan has scored 50% of his team’s Premier League goals this season although you can get a best price 6/4 (Blue Square bookmaker) that the visitors claim the points at a ground where Chelsea lost 3-1 on Saturday having gone into a 1-0 lead.
West Ham are clearly the value bet at 11/5 and one wonders why they can be priced so big considering they are three points better than their opponents in the table and boast home form of four wins, three draws and a defeat to Arsenal.
Andy Carroll would have been ineligible anyway but there is plenty to like about the character of this Hammers team that came close to landing a point at Old Trafford and will be confident of getting all three against Liverpool.