After Matchday 3 in Europe this past midweek, attentions once more turn to league affairs as the Manchester derby headlines the weekend’s Premier League action.
As the gap threatens to widen between the two sides that divide the city, the stakes remain high for the duo but for different reasons.
Having bounced back from successive league defeats, Manchester City go in chase of unlikely leaders Tottenham.
United, meanwhile, continue to scratch around for form after an underwhelming midweek win.
That, off the back of a nervous 2-1 win away at Sheffield United, as boss Erik ten Hag remains under fire.
In recent years, the away side have a more than decent record in this fixture, and with City the clear favourites for bragging rights, Julian Alvarez could again be the star at Old Trafford.
As hosts United still continue to battle in eighth spot, six points separate the two sides to begin the weekend.
Despite a run of shaky showings, the Red Devils have built a run of three successive wins in all competitions.
However we need to go back to the beginning of the year for their last win against a side in the top six.
Bruno Fernandes causes scenes at Old Trafford! 💥
His goal is ruled onside after the linesman initially put his flag up! ✅ pic.twitter.com/AJDIGH2Be5
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) January 14, 2023
Indeed, that last came – rather intriguingly – here at Old Trafford in the derby.
Goals from Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes sealed a somewhat surprising win some nine months back.
In what will be the 191st Manchester derby in the fixture’s long history, it looks set to be Alvarez’ first.
Having been an unused substitute both at Old Trafford last time out in January and at Wembley in the FA Cup final, the Argentine is poised to make his mark.
As the Cityzens still continue on without the injured Kevin De Bruyne, Alvarez, making his permanent move from River Plate in July of last year, has been a beacon of light.
The World Cup-winner was already being touted to play a number 10 role behind Erling Haaland pre-season, but without KDB, Alvarez has been arguably City’s most influential player.
With four goals and five assists in nine league games, the forward has also three goals in as many Champions League games this term.
The ICT Index also indicates Alvarez is in the top 13 players in the Premier League in terms of creativity – ahead of both Mo Salah and James Ward-Prowse.
Sunday’s derby encounter should afford Alvarez plenty of chances to impress once more.
To score anytime, the Argentine is 2/1 with most bookies, whilst an Erling Haaland goal assisted by either Alvarez OR Phil Foden fetches tidy 5/2 odds with William Hill.
One other option that might interest if the game becomes a cagey affair with United keen to avoid a thumping, 2+ Alvarez SOT with Betfred is a still decent 13/8.