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Manchester City vs. Manchester United: Champions ‘strongly fancied’ to defeat city rivals

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Premier League champions Manchester City host city rivals Manchester United in the headline match of the weekend, which kicks off at 17:30 GMT on Saturday live on Sky Sports.

Both fierce rivals each enjoyed strong mid-week performances, with City running riot in their 4-1 victory at Burnley, and United seeing off their old managerial flame José Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur side 2-1.

However, the bookmakers don’t appear to expect as much of a contest as neutrals may be hoping for at the Etihad on Saturday evening.

City are strongly fancied at an odds-on 1/3 to conquer their city rivals.

The draw is 17/4, with an away United win a whopping 15/2.

Such lopsided odds would have been unthinkable in this derby a little over a decade ago when United were regularly winning titles under Sir Alex Ferguson, and City were yet to have been purchased by their multi-billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour.

However, City have lifted three Premier League titles since United’s last in 2013, and they desperately require three points here if they wish to take that tally to four in pursuit of the current runaway league leaders Liverpool.

The Citizens currently lie 11 points behind the European champions, which could be extended to 14 if Liverpool win as expected at Bournemouth, and can ill-afford any further slip-ups.

The Red Devils, meanwhile, are desperately trying to keep their outside hopes of a top four place – and subsequent Champions League qualification – alive.

Should fourth-placed Chelsea beat Everton in the lunch-time kick-off on Saturday, United could find themselves the same points distance behind Chelsea as City currently are behind Liverpool before this match kicks-off.

So in a derby which should require no further incentives, they’re certainly present in any case!

In the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero, City forwards Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling are evens and 6/5 respectively to score anytime against United.

If you fancy the in-form Marcus Rashford, who scored twice against Spurs in mid-week, he’s a tasty-looking price of 11/4 to bag an away goal.

City haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league since a 3-0 home win over Aston Villa towards the end of October, and if United are to score it’s hard to look past the England man being the man to do so for them.

Rashford has 15 goals for club and country already this campaign and, as a young man local to the area, he will be desperate to make an impression against his club’s city rivals.

Both teams to score also looks generously priced at 17/20 given City’s current issues in defence, but it’s tough to see beyond them having a little too much for United in terms of the ultimate outcome.

Throw in a City win on top of BTTS for 9/5, then, and you’ve got yourself a decent price.

I'm a freelance sports journalist who has worked for Goal & Bleacher Report amongst others. Get in touch, you're more than welcome to do so via Twitter or contact me via email .

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