The city of Manchester is one of the luckiest in the entire soccer world. They are home to two of the best clubs in one of the best professional leagues.

Traditional English Premier League powerhouses Manchester United and Manchester City have the fanbases going crazy, and for good reason. As there is every year, there’s tons of excitement heading into the 2021-22 campaign.

This year may be a little different, though, and bookies are taking notice. Manchester City is the defending EPL champions, and has won the championship title three out of the last four years. Manchester United hasn’t taken home the league trophy in a few years, but they welcome back one of the greatest players in the world — forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

So, who has the edge between these two Manchester powerhouses? Will City capture yet another league title to add to their already impressive trophy case? Or will United be able to unseat them with the return of Ronaldo?

Can Anyone Stop Manchester City?

The entire English Premier League will be gunning for Manchester City this year, as they are the defending champions. However, this has happened in three out of the last four years, too, and no club has seemed to be able to unseat them.

Other clubs in the EPL have improved since last season (like Manchester United, of course), but will that be enough to unseat Pep Guardiola’s team? Maybe not.

Last season, Manchester City didn’t back down from any team. They started the campaign quite slow, but finished with a fury. In games from December through March, they only surrendered four total standings points. 

In the EPL last season, Manchester City scored 10 more goals than the next closest club and gave up four fewer goals then the next club on the list. This club simply creates way more chances than any other club does, and they do so without having a world-class striker. It’s truly impressive.

Ruben Dias and John Stones created quick the formidable wall around their keeper, Ederson. Opposing teams have an extremely tough time even getting near the Manchester City goal, and the same is expected again this season. This, of course, is bolstered by the offseason addition of Jack Grealish, who signed for $140 million.

Manchester City spent the offseason trying to lure Harry Kane to their club, but that never ended up happening. Still, it’s not like the club has no talent up and down the line up. 

Leading the attack is the world-class Belgian, Kevin De Bruyne. Much of the club’s offense starts and stops with De Bruyne, even as they have extremely talented players such as Gabriel Jesus around him. Youngster Raheem Sterling also seems primed for a larger role with the club this season.

Most pundits believe that Manchester City will repeat as EPL league champions again this season, and for good reason. Most sportsbooks agree, as they have installed the club as the odds-on favorite to repeat as champions. Right now, Manchester City’s odds to win the EPL sit at +120

Welcome Back, Ronaldo

The big news of the offseason for Manchester United was the return of Ronaldo to the club he had so much success with earlier in his career. But, while Ronaldo was certainly the biggest name to join the club this offseason, he’s not the only one. Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho are additions to the club as well.

Last season, even without these players, Manchester United was very close to glory. They finished second in the entire EPL, and actually made it to the final of the Europa League, too. 

Not enough can be said about Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford. He’s simply an all-world player — certainly in the discussion of the best in his generation. He’s a natural scorer, and defenses have to key in on him whenever he’s on the field, whether he has the ball or not. That takes a lot of pressure off of other players who are looking to gain open space on the field, too.

Some critics question whether Ronaldo still has anything left in the tank at the age of 36, but if recent performance means anything, then he certainly does. He shined at the UEFA EUROs 2020, and had another simply outstanding club season for Juventus of Serie A in Italy last season.

If nothing else, Ronaldo will bring tons of attention to Manchester United, tons of leadership and tons of past championship pedigree. He’ll also draw the attention of much of the opposing clubs’ focus as they try to stop him from taking them down all on his own.

Ronaldo isn’t the only scoring threat for Manchester United, though. Sancho is perhaps among the best right wingers in the entire world, and he’s only 21 years old. Then, the club also attacks with Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.

Where Manchester United lacks a little is on the back end. Fred and Scott McTominay are certainly good players, but they aren’t the rock solid defenders that some other clubs (like Manchester City) have. That being said, they certainly aren’t slouches and are a formidable force to have to deal with. 

Even with all these additions to build on the base from last year, sportsbooks believe that Manchester United is the fourth best team in the English Premier League. Right now, they have odds of +500 to win the EPL. 

That’s behind Manchester City (+120), Chelsea (+275) and Liverpool (+450). Can Manchester United outperform these expectations and win another EPL title with Ronaldo back at Old Trafford? It’s certainly possible.

There’s one thing that won’t be in question. When both Manchester City and Manchester United face off against each other, the people of the city of Manchester are likely to put aside everything else they were doing to cheer for their club. 

This matchup is likely to be the most anticipated of the 2021-22 EPL season — and for good reason. 


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