Man United v Man City
Wednesday October 26, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports 1
A genius one week, a laughing stock the next. That's how Jose Mourinho has been perceived in some quarters after firstly his Manchester United team drew 0-0 with Liverpool, before then losing 4-0, and being humiliated - Mourinho's words, apparently - at Chelsea.
Mourinho is neither of course; his side defended well at Anfield, they defended woefully at Stamford Bridge.
What both outcomes perhaps do demonstrate is that this Manchester United side is extremely average. They've taken just two points from the last nine available and were brutally exposed at the back against Chelsea on Sunday. The news doesn't get any better either with Mourinho describing Eric Bailly's injury as a bad one.
If we want to include some positives in a brief assessment of this current United side then at least we can point to some promising home form. Mourinho's men have won three and drawn one of their last four games at Old Trafford, scoring 10 goals in the process which included an excellent 45 minutes, and subsequent 4-1 victory, over defending Premier League champions Leicester.
Under normal circumstances the vast majority of those sniggering at United's exploits would hail from the Blue side of Manchester, but City's current form is actually worse.
Pep Guardiola's men have also taken just two points from the last nine available in the Premier League, being outplayed against Spurs before managing just back-to-back draws at home to Everton and Southampton.
The difference being is that where United won their two Europa League games that were sandwiched between domestic action, Man City conceded seven goals in two Champions League ties with the 4-0 defeat at Barcelona being the worst defensive performance you're likely to see for a long time. Or until you sat down to watch Chelsea v United last Sunday!
At the time of writing there are no indications as to how each side are going to line up on Wednesday night, so it's probably a pointless exercise trying to guess. If pushed I'd wager that we'll see two strong starting XIs, there's simply too much at stake.
I said before United played at Liveprool last week that you really wouldn't be surprised at any of the three outcomes, and that whoever best takes their chances probably wins the game. David de Gea made two world class saves to deny the Reds, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic wasted a glorious chance with a back post header to possibly win it for United.
The outcome of this match looks equally difficult to call. Chances look certain at both ends of the pitch. Both managers will be desperate for the win and should either fall behind they'll make positive substitutions. It's a local derby, the two managers don't like each other, it's a winner takes all cup tie.
We should be all set for an absolute thriller.
Simply because it's the bigger price of the three outcomes a small wager on the Draw at [3.4] is my tentative choice ahead of backing United at [2.7] or City at [2.94].
What is likely to happen though - with local bragging rights, egos, and a chance to win some silverware at stake - is that we should witness a very entertaining affair. And hopefully that will mean goals.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Far from Mourinho being a master tactician it was more the fact that De Gea prevented United from conceding a few goals at Anfield last week, and we've since witnessed how poor the Red Devils can be defensively with that horror show at Stamford Bridge.
Even allowing for some decent performances on home soil of late Mourinho's men have still conceded 14 goals in their last 10 matches, including two at home to Man City six weeks ago. They've kept just two clean sheets in that time.
Man City haven't kept a clean sheet in their last seven outings and quite alarmingly they've conceded nine times in their last three away games.
In a nutshell, these are two sides who are stuggling defensively at the moment, yet both are capable of some stunning attacking play - City more than United admittedly - and scoring plenty of goals.
So given how I expect this match to be played out - 18 goals have been scored in the last five cup ties between these two - I'm pleasantly surprised to be able to back Over 2.5 Goals at [2.0] currently, and I just can't resist having a wager on Over 3.5 Goals at [3.5]. There'll be no playing for a 0-0 in this game, rest assured.