City to sink United in derby
Our Chris Hammer is backing Manchester City to win Sunday's derby against United at the Etihad Stadium.
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Manchester United can take a significant step towards regaining the Premier League crown from their neighbours with victory in Sunday's derby at the Etihad Stadium - but I feel the hosts will do just enough to get back on level terms in the title race. Leaders United are three points clear of City in what already looks like a two-horse race and although Roberto Mancini's men came from eight behind with six games remaining last season to top the table on goal difference, defeat would leave them with a pretty steep hill to climb. But let's not forget that despite a relatively unconvincing campaign so far, City are the only remaining unbeaten side in the top flight while they haven't lost a league game at home since a 2-1 defeat to Everton in December 2010. The two derby triumphs last season as well as the manner in which they snatched the title on the final day gives them the mental edge in the first head-to-head meeting since then - no matter what mind games Sir Alex Ferguson comes up with - and more importantly they clearly have the quality in their ranks to come out on top yet again. In addition, you'd expect them to be even more fired up than usual to give their supporters the bragging rights in the wake of their miserable Champions League campaign, which saw them finish bottom without a single win to their name. Having no European involvement may help their domestic aspirations later on in the season, as Ferguson himself admitted, but for the time being it's all about putting that disappointment behind them in the best way possible. United may be top of the league but they haven't been without their problems either. Much has been made of their worrying habit of falling behind in games this season and they did so again in their final Champions League group game against Cluj in midweek - only this time they failed to even equalise. Ferguson's side have conceded 21 goals in the league, including three inside the first 21 minutes at lowly Reading last weekend, which means only Spurs have a worse defensive record in the top half of the table. With all this in mind I'm just going to keep this simple and back a home win.
A rejuvenated Tottenham head to fellow top-four hopefuls Everton on Sunday afternoon and many will view them as a tempting price to continue their recent run of form. Since the demoralising 5-2 defeat to arch rivals Arsenal, Andre Villas-Boas' men have chalked up three Premier League victories in succession, scoring eight goals along the way, to climb up to fourth in the table ahead of the weekend programme while they head to Goodison Park on the back of a 3-1 victory over Panathinaikos which sealed their passage into the Europa League knockout stages. One man who has been key to their revival is Jermain Defoe, who has bagged five goals in the last four games in all competitions, so he'll probably appeal to many punters to find the net anytime. Meanwhile Everton have lacked the killer touch of late and the fact they remain well in the hunt for Champions League qualification owes much to their early-season form. The Toffees have drawn seven of their last nine games and although one of those includes an impressive point at Manchester City, they don't seem to go for the jugular enough. The main factor preventing us putting this in the staking plan is the absence of Gareth Bale but a Spurs win remains a good bet in my eyes.
After being named the preferred bidder for the use of the Olympic Stadium this week, West Ham's immediate focus turns back to the Premier League and on Sunday they'll be aiming to follow up last weekend's impressive triumph over Chelsea with a win against mid-table Liverpool. If a move to the venue where the likes of Mo Farah and Jess Ennis became national heroes in the summer does materialise, the fans will hope they can recreate the Upton Park atmosphere which undoubtedly played its part in roaring the side on against the Blues as they came from behind to register a 3-1 victory which lifted them up to eighth. Their hopes of picking up another three points on home soil have been boosted by the suspension of Liverpool talisman Luis Suarez, who has accumulated five bookings. It's fair to say the Uruguayan star has provided the lion's share of Liverpool's smattering of bright moments this season so his absence certainly dents their chances of picking up only their second away victory in the league. The Hammers can be backed to win but I'm going to play a little safer and take them in the draw no bet market.