Soccer Betting News - SA's Leading Soccer Betting Newspaper: Manchester United vs Manchester City Preview

Manchester United vs Manchester City Preview

Hakim Ziyech and Raheem Sterling will aim to get their clubs back in contention for the league title


Chelsea will play host to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening as both title hopefuls seek to gain much-needed ground on champions Liverpool who are within touching distance of the chasing pack, in order to achieve a common goal that both clubs share – change the Premier League trophy’s ribbons to blue.

Chelsea will welcome the return to home soil after losing three consecutive games on the road at Everton, Wolves and Arsenal that have somewhat derailed the Blues from a strong position.

Nevertheless, Frank Lampard’s men will still carry their title of dark horses for the league crown as their newly-assembled array of talented footballers are expected to gel as a well-oiled machine during the second half of the campaign.

Manchester City, on the other hand, seem like a completely different beast this season, compared to other Pep Guardiola teams that we’ve drooled over in the past for being free-scoring. Focus was put into defensive reinforcements in the previous transfer market and results on the pitch have begun to reflect exactly that with the Citizens keeping eight clean sheets from their last 10 outings (at the time of writing), across all competitions.

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English Premier League
Sunday 3 January
Stamford Bridge
18:30

To Win
Chelsea 9/4
Draw 26/10
Manchester City 23/20

Chelsea

Chelsea fans and Lampard will be sweating on the fitness of the “Wizard of Amsterdam” Hakim Ziyech to make his return to the starting XI. The influential Moroccan midfielder was key to the Blues’ success during a 12-match unbeaten streak across all competitions with eight victories and four draws. Since sustaining a thigh injury against Leeds United in early December, Chelsea have suffered a dip in form and results haven’t been as forthcoming.

Despite City’s dominance under Guardiola, the Citizens have suffered four defeats from their last five trips to Stamford Bridge, last managing to edge out a 1-0 win back in 2017 thanks to Chelsea old-boy Kevin De Bruyne blasting home a left-footed rocket from 25-yards out.

The last meeting between these sides six months ago was an entertaining and fiery contest that mathematically ruled out City from their pursuit of Liverpool’s title charge, allowing Liverpool’s celebrations to erupt in Merseyside.

Christian Pulisic was in scintillating form in that particular encounter and Lampard will be hoping the American wonderkid will bring his A-game when it’s most needed once again. A selection headache of accommodating Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud will be Lampard’s toughest challenge to unlock City’s defence.

Thiago Silva has been majestic alongside Kurt Zouma in the heart of the Blues’ defence since joining from Paris Saint-Germain at the ripe age of 36. Sergio Aguero’s age may suggest his also at the twilight of his professional career but personally I am looking forward to Silva and Aguero pitting their wits against each other.

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Manchester City

Manchester City are forced to tinker with their backline that has been close to watertight since reverting to their approach of fielding two deep-lying midfielders in Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan to protect the back four.

Kyle Walker has tested positive for Covid-19 meaning Joao Cancelo could slot in his preferred right-back role with Nathan Ake, Benjamin Mendy or Oleksandr Zinchenko starting at left-back to try and nullify Chelsea’s dangerman Ziyech.

Gabriel Jesus is another player that will be a huge blow due to Covid-19. The Brazilian forward will also self-isolate and possibly make his return on 6th January for City’s Carabao Cup semi-final clash at neighbours Manchester United.

Aguero is expected to spearhead the Sky Blue attack unless Guardiola decides to play with a false nine that has seen De Bruyne or Raheem Sterling play as the most advanced forward in the past. Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Ferran Torres and Phil Foden are all silky-smooth midfielders that possess guile and trickery to beat opponents in one-on-one situations, as well as being very quick.

These midfielders, constantly interchanging roles behind the striker, always proves to be a headache for the opposition and N'Golo Kante will surely have his work cut out in the heart of the Blues’ midfield.

Aguero has a stellar record against the Blues, scoring 15 goals in 20 appearances. Chelsea bring out the best and worst of the Argentine hitman who infamously received a red card after attempting to break the leg of then Chelsea defender David Luiz in a Vinnie Jones-type tackle ensuing a full-on brawl between these rivals who’ve won five of the past seven league titles between them.

Probable line-ups:

Chelsea: 4-3-3
Mendy; James, Zouma, Thiago Silva, Chilwell; Kante, Havertz, Mount; Ziyech, Werner, Pulisic.

Manchester City: 4-2-3-1
Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Ake; Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling; Aguero.

Prediction: Draw (5/2)
A cagey and hard-fought encounter is expected when these expensively assembled squads meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Either side could give themselves a strong foothold in the race to snatch the crown from Liverpool’s grasp with victory. Guardiola hasn’t fared well at the Bridge, winning just once in four league meetings. His current measured approach compared to other seasons that entertained with swashbuckling front-foot attacking play could see fewer chances created and level the playing field. My money is firmly on the draw at 5/2, but if you’re feeling brave, have a punt on Draw/Draw in the Half-Time/Full-Time market at 9/2.

Written by Bryan Naicker