Previewing City versus United

April, 29, 2012

Monday night football in Manchester will see Manchester United put its three-point league lead on the line against second-place Manchester City (2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN). Here are five notes for the most important league derby the teams have ever played.

• Entering the weekend, SPI projects Manchester United as a 72.3 percent favorite to win the league, down from 90.1 percent prior to losing at Wigan and drawing Everton over the past three games. A United win would virtually seal the league title, and a draw would increase United's chances, as well. But a City win will nearly flip the current projections, giving City a 65.8 percent shot at the championship.

• Because the game is at Etihad Stadium, Manchester City is a 45.1 percent favorite to win this match. Manchester United is given 26.6 percent odds to win, with a 28.3 percent chance of a draw. City averages 1.5 goals per game in simulations, compared to 1.2 goals per game for United.

• Manchester United is unbeaten in three straight games at Etihad, shutting out City in three straight games, with a scoreless draw a season ago and two 1-0 wins before that. City looks to end that drought and sweep the season series for the second time in the past 40 years.

• With a win on Monday, City moves into first place on goal difference, which could decide the league title for the first time since 1988-89. That season, a second tiebreaker was necessary, as Arsenal and Liverpool were level on both points and goal difference, with the Gunners claiming the title by virtue of scoring eight more goals than Liverpool.

• Two different methods of attack will be on display in this clash. Manchester City prefers to build up the middle, as indicated by the team's leaders in chances created: David Silva (45) and Samir Nasri (36), who operate primarily in the center of the pitch. Conversely, Manchester United charges largely down the flanks. The top three Red Devils in chances created are all wingers: Antonio Valencia (45), Nani (42) and Ashley Young (29).



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