By Josh Powell | Manchester United v Manchester City
Passion, desire, intensity and full-blooded tackles. That is the myth surrounding local derbies and the Manchester derby is no different. It is a well-accepted theory that for some reason a professional footballer from Spain, or Germany, or somewhere else nowhere near said city, will crunch an opponent within the opening ten minutes.
It’s as if every player has been programmed with ‘Derby day syndrome’ where they think spending 90 minutes executing challenges from the Paul Scholes book of tackling is perfectly acceptable.
However the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford could be completely different.
This season, Alex Ferguson’s claret nose is the closest Manchester United players have come to seeing red in the Premier League. Not one of the side currently topping the Premier League have been sent for an early bath and they have accumulated just 44 yellow cards in 30 matches.
At home United are even more disciplined, averaging just 1.1 yellow cards a game. We can only presume the ‘.1’ is one of those flimsy legs Nani sticks out every now and again in the vague direction of an opponent.
Manchester City have had three people sent off in the league this season but aren’t necessarily much dirtier, with just four more yellows on their record than their neighbours.
Therefore there could be a little bit of value in betting on the card index. For punters who haven’t previously dabbled in the card markets, a yellow card is 10 points on the card index and a red card is 25 points. As a player this isn’t the kind of competition where you want to be racking up high scores, unfortunately nobody told Lee Cattermole.
It is 8/11 that Manchester City will get more card index points than Manchester United. It’s a fair bet with United averaging just 11 index points for home games this season and City averaging 22 index points in their away games.
For punters licking their wounds after the Grand National and looking for a bit of value, the exact card index to be between 45 to 50 is 9/2. In the last decade in the Premier League the Manchester Derby has racked up 945 index points in 21 matches, an average of 45 every match.
It has got slightly feistier since the City takeover in 2008. In the five years since each game has averaged 52 points with just one red card in the last eight head-to-head encounters. But with the title race over since the turn of the year you’d expect that number to be slightly diluted.
I don’t like Mondays…
Monday games are about as lively as an evening around Mark Lawrenson’s gaff playing connect four. The 13 Monday night games this season average 41 points on the card index. Take away a crunching encounter between West Ham and QPR where there were 11 yellow cards and a sending off and the average drops to 33 points.
Mike Dean might not be on either manager’s Christmas list but he is another reason to back under 60 card index points at 8/13. He has refereed 20 matches this season and averages just 38.5 index points a game, which is almost four yellow cards per game.
There will be plenty of pride on the line on Monday night but it won’t be as tasty an affair as it would have been if United weren’t strolling to their 20th title in second gear.