Manchester’s two Premier League clubs have both made a mixed start to the 2021/22 season.
United have fared best of the pair, kicking things off with a thumping 5-1 home victory over Leeds Unites on the opening weekend.
However, they were unable to follow up at Southampton on Sunday, recording a 1-1 draw in front of a packed house at St Mary’s.
Reigning champions City started their season with a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, but bounced back with a comfortable 5-0 home win against Norwich City.
Pep Guardiola’s side remain favourites to defend the title, and punters can find more info on betting sites about all the latest odds.
With both clubs expected to mount a serious challenge to claim top spot this term, we assess their respective chances.
Fred highlights United’s problem area
United ran riot against Leeds in their first game, sparking talk that they could win their first top-flight title since the 2012/13 campaign.
They were undoubtedly helped by a shambolic defensive play by Leeds, although United were ruthless when taking their chances.
Sunday’s visit to Southampton was always likely to be trickier, with the home side boosted by the return of their fans to St Mary’s.
Things started badly for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side as Fred’s own goal in the 30th minute gave Southampton something to cling on to for the rest of the game.
Solskjaer failed to hide his frustration with Fred in his post-match comments, but it was no surprise that the midfielder was responsible for the team dropping points.
The Brazilian has failed to live up to expectations at Old Trafford and his continued presence in the starting XI is baffling.
Donny van de Beek must be wondering what he has to do to get a chance in the first team, but Solskjaer clearly doesn’t fancy the Netherlands international.
On that basis, if United fail to sign another midfielder before the transfer window closes, they are unlikely to win the league this season.
City’s Kane conundrum
City’s defeat at Tottenham on the opening weekend was a coupon buster, with the visitors failing to get on the scoresheet despite dominating possession.
They bounced back in style on Saturday, smashing five goals past newly-promoted Norwich City without breaking sweat.
While the result was extremely welcome, it is fair to say that the Canaries are one of the worst teams City will face this season.
The biggest question mark hanging over City’s title hopes this season is their lack of a natural centre forward.
Guardiola employed a ‘false nine’ system during the previous campaign and seems intent on persevering with it this season.
Gabriel Jesus’ switch to a wide role indicates that he is no longer viewed as a striker, leaving the squad without a top-class goalscorer.
City have been heavily linked with Harry Kane this summer, although time is running out to get a deal for the Tottenham star over the line.
If City secure Kane’s services they will be tough to beat in the title race, but failing to sign him could change the landscape.
The final word
United have done some excellent business this summer, with the addition of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane resolving two problem positions in the team.
However, the first-choice midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred is simply not good enough to win a league title.
City look better equipped to claim top spot, although their hopes would be significantly boosted if they can add Kane to their ranks.
Chelsea’s acquisition of Romelu Lukaku has already highlighted the difference an elite striker can make and City could be left to regret not meeting Spurs’ asking price for Kane.