Fresh from witnessing two of his former teams do battle at Old Trafford, Dimitar Berbatov looks ahead to another huge test for Manchester United - a trip to City on Saturday evening...
"United can surprise City and take all three points. That would end City's title hopes, which would be great, except that it would hand the title to Liverpool, which is even worse."
United showed us they have all the talent they need
Manchester United outplayed Tottenham at Old Trafford by moving the ball quickly, being aggressive and generally playing with the kind of purpose that United fans expect to see.
The movement of Jesse Lingard, Mason Greenwood and especially Marcus Rashford was excellent and the team's performance was a big step in the right direction.
Rashford scored his first goal from a difficult angle and, even though Paulo Gazzaniga should have saved his shot, it gave the United striker the belief that this was his night. That's why he was shooting from long-range and playing with great confidence. He confused Tottenham's defenders with his skills, they were rattled by his pace and power, which is why Moussa Sissoko conceded the penalty in the second-half.
If United's attacking players can perform as well as they did against Tottenham, and Anthony Martial plays to his potential when he returns from injury, then there's no need for Ole to sign a striker in January. Bringing in a new forward at this point could even discourage the players that United already have.
I know there's speculation about Erling Braut Haaland coming to Old Trafford. He's a big centre-forward, an old fashioned target man who scores tap-ins, so he would offer United something different, but they need to think carefully about how he would fit into their style of play.
Solskjaer can motivate players for another big performance
United do well against the Premier League's stronger teams - thumping Chelsea on the opening day, beating Leicester, drawing with Liverpool and now defeating Spurs. Bigger teams' style of play suits United and some players find it easier to motivate themselves against big opponents than they do against so-called smaller clubs. But if United are to turn around their season, Ole needs make sure his players are up for every game.
United's manager won't have any difficulty getting his players motivated for Saturday's trip to Manchester City - where they are big outsiders to win at [10.5]. Derbies are different from other matches and league positions count for little when you step out on the pitch against fierce rivals. City aren't as strong as they have been in recent seasons and, as Norwich, Wolves and Liverpool have shown, they can be beaten.
I expect Ole to pick the same team as the one that beat Spurs, although if Martial is fit then he could come in for Greenwood. United need to be solid in midfield and defence and take their chances on the counter-attack when they get them. Scott McTominay had a great game against Spurs and will need to be at his best against David Silva. United mustn't leave space for Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus to run into.
Both teams need the win - United to keep their momentum going and City to keep alive their title hopes - so I'm not keen on the draw and I see goals in this game. United can surprise City and take all three points. That would end City's title hopes, which would be great, except that it would hand the title to Liverpool, which is even worse. But if United win on Saturday, they won't be thinking about that.
Bale to Spurs would be a good move for player and club
Gareth Bale has said he thinks Jose Mourinho is a good fit for Tottenham so it seems possible that the Portuguese could try to sign the Welshman in January. That would be a great move for both parties.
I'm a big admirer of Bale, it's not working out for him in Madrid and, if he comes back to England, Spurs would probably be the ideal club for him. He understands the club and was a great player for them before he left for Spain. I would be very pleased to see him back at Spurs.
Messi's record-breaking Ballon d'Or is reminder of his greatness
What can you say about Lionel Messi that hasn't been said before? It's not my place to say whether he deserved to win this year's Ballon d'Or more than his rivals. He's been playing at an incredible standard for a long time and it will be interesting to see how Cristiano Ronaldo reacts to Messi's win. Will it spur the Juventus star to even greater heights?
Would I like to have played in same team as Messi? Is there any player who could answer 'no' to that question? Ha ha! I would have loved to be on the same team as him. I played with great players, including Ronaldo, and I know how good he was back then, let alone now. As a player, and as a fan, I feel very lucky to have been around at the same time as Messi and Ronaldo.
THE BETFAIR'S TRADER'S BEST BETS - ALAN THOMPSON
Back Manchester City and Both Teams To Score at [3.0]
Manchester City v Manchester United
Manchester City responded to last week’s disappointment in style by beating Burnley 4-1 away on Tuesday night, but they still go into this weekend in third place and they face their local rivals who also had a good result midweek. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men put in what could have been their best performance of the season so far to beat Tottenham 2-1. Both teams strikers were in good form as City’s Gabriel Jesus got a brace (could easily have made that a hat-trick) as did United’s Marcus Rashford who has now scored 12 goals in his last 13 appearances for club and country.
City have conceded in each of their last eight starts in all competitions and I think they may struggle to keep a clean sheet again today. The goals markets tend to agree, over 2.5 goals is trading as low as [1.55], both teams to score also odds on at [1.88] and Man City to win to nil is around [2.4]. I think the market is right and we could be in for an entertaining encounter.
Guardiola’s men have certainly not been at their best lately and United would like nothing more than to deliver another huge blow to their title credentials. But the Red Devils haven’t been great on the road in the league and have failed to win in 10 of their last 11 attempts in the league.
I think City will ultimately come out with the three points but they will have to score at least twice to do it and I will be backing Man City / Yes in the Match Odds and Both Teams to score market at anything around [3.0].
Lay Watford at [1.76]
Watford v Crystal Palace
Watford remained firmly rooted to the bottom of the league with just eight points after their midweek defeat at the hands of high-flying Leicester City. The Hornets have only won one league game so far this season and lost their last three in a row, if there is a bit of hope for them, they haven’t lost to Palace in their last four meetings, winning three of them by the same scoreline 2-1.
The Eagles have had a tough run of games, since mid October they have had to play Man City (lost 0-2), Arsenal (draw 2-2), Leicester (lost 0-2), Chelsea (lost 2-0) and then Liverpool (lost 1-2) but they have come out of that spell and picked up back-to-back wins against Burnley (0-2) and Bournemouth (1-0), the Bournemouth win was especially impressive as they had to play most of the game with ten men after Mamadou Sakho, just 19 minutes into the game was dismissed.
I don’t see Palace coming away empty handed and as such being able to lay Watford in the Draw no Bet market at [1.76] looks like a good play to me.