The Longshot: Man City lose pace in title race with derby defeat

United can set up a crunch clash with leaders Arsenal in a great position if they can storm Palace tomorrow
The Longshot: Man City lose pace in title race with derby defeat

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes scores, after Marcus Rashford leaves it, against Manchester City. Picture: Dave Thompson/AP

WE MENTIONED a few weeks back our each-way bet (paying two places) at 66/1 on Man United to win the Premier League, which came after the season had started, but before we had taken up residency in these pages once again.

Ten Hag’s men are now into 10/1 in places after their win over their cross-city rivals on Saturday, though 14/1 is still available.

Defeat in a crunch meeting away to runaway league leaders Arsenal next weekend might see them drift again and put an end to any reasonable hopes of them winning it outright, but before that they face another tricky away game in London at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace tomorrow evening.

United are fourth on goal difference but have a game in hand on Newcastle and are going in search of a 10th consecutive win, something last achieved under Alex Ferguson.

Patrick Vieira’s side fell short in their local clash with London counterparts Chelsea losing 1-0 and are now rated at 16/1 to go down despite only being two points ahead of 2/1 priced Notts Forest.

United are 3/4 to win, while Palace are 10/3.

United were deserving winners against City despite maybe being somewhat fortunate to get their equaliser.

Most people seem to think that Marcus Rashford was offside for Bruno Fernandes’ goal, but for me the defenders needed to play the whistle and although he may have influenced the reactions of the Man City players as the rules are written he didn’t interfere with play. The wording of the law, rather than the spirit of the game, favoured Rashford on this occasion.

Once you don’t touch the ball or block anyone else from getting it, how can it be claimed you interfered?

I know many will argue you can, but I’m happy to give the advantage to the attack and leave defenders blather on about the skill of playing a high line and not worrying about anything that happens after you assume just because your marker has strayed off, you don’t have to worry about anyone else.

Pep would definitely be one to disagree of course. But he has told his players to put the derby defeat behind them and concentrate on Thursday night’s clash with Spurs.

City are now no longer odds-on favourites to retain their league title, moving out to 5/4, as Arsenal move to 4/5.

Spurs have caused problems for City in recent seasons, winning both fixtures last time.

City have won just two of their four games since the season restarted. Erling Haaland has had smashing goal records since joining but hardly touched the ball in City’s last two games and will need to overcome his mini drought if they are to defend their title.

Antonio Conte’s side let their North London rivals surge clear at the top with a poor display at home on Sunday, with Hugo Lloris taking most of the credit for the defeat.

The Italian is 10/1 to be the next manager ejected, although many more eminent contenders elsewhere will probably mean he won’t say arrivederci first.

City are 13/20 to win while Spurs are 15/2 to cause another shock at the Etihad.

Irish interest again as Oscar season approaches

THERE were some positive vibes around an Irish film, Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, at last week’s Golden Globes, prompting genuine Oscar hopes come the second weekend in March.

Ireland has a good record for Academy Awards nominations, for a country our size, with Cork’s own animator Nora Twomey leading the way recently with her colleagues at the Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny. However, when it comes to the top-five categories, we haven’t been too successful since the gongs started being handed out in 1927.

Seven Irish films and seven Irish directors have been nominated, but none have won.

We’ve never won Best Actress, but have bagged Best Actor three times thanks to the joint British/Irish citizenship taken up by Daniel Day-Lewis (although we probably shouldn’t claim him if we want to take umbrage when those across the Irish Sea call our stars ‘British’. London-born Martin McDonagh, director of Banshees, is an easier claim to make.) We have one Best Supporting Actor award for each gender — Barry Fitzgerald and Brenda Fricker.

Neil Jordan and Kenneth Branagh have both won original screenplay awards (Branagh just last year), while George Bernard Shaw took added an adapted screenplay statue for Pygmalion to his Nobel Prize for Literature.

Why are we talking about showbiz in the back pages? Because there are odds on offer.

I haven’t seen Banshees in the cinema yet and, despite being a fan of McDonagh’s early plays and In Bruges, something tells me that if I do, I’m not going to enjoy it.

However, non-Irish audiences have certainly taken to it. It was very well received at the Venice Film Festival last year (where Colin Farrell won Best Actor) and is just 2/1 to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Chinese-American picture Everything Everywhere All At Once is generally 10/11 favourite, but can be backed at 2/1 also in places.

Stephen Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical The Fablemans is 4/1, but the most famous man to ever stand behind a lens is 4/6 to scoop his third Best Director win, while McDonagh is a 20/1 outsider.

Farrell is 2/1 to become the first Irish-born to win for acting in a main role, but it seems likely that award will go to Brendan Fraser, who is 8/11 for his performance in The Whale.

Likewise, Cate Blanchett is odds-on at 8/13 to win her third statue, for her turn as a composer in Tár.

The film’s best chances might be in supporting roles. Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan are 4/1 and 10/1, respectively, for their roles in the Achill-filmed flick, while Kerry Condon is 2/1 for portraying Farrell’s sister in the movie.

Rennie gets wind of Jones return for Oz

ONCE Australia rugby boss Dave Rennie heard that Eddie Jones had been left go by England before Christmas he must have known his number was up.

He has been sacked and the Wallabies have reappointed the most winningest World Cup coach in history, in his place with that tournament looming on the horizon.

Jones’ seven-year tenure in charge of England ended in December with his sacking after a run of results in 2022 that included six defeats and a draw in 12 matches.

Will the decision to ditch the Australian and bring in Steve Borthwick come back to haunt the RFU? Bookies currently offer 4/1 to win the Six Nations and 6/1 for the World Cup, while Australia have tightened to 8/1 in places, but can be backed at 12/1, which is still shorter than before the reappointment of the man who led them to the final in 2003 (and England to the final in 2019).

Bills, Bengals to run it back

IT’S down to the final eight in the NFL season and two of the games throw up intriguing young quarterback clashes.

Patrick Mahomes comes into the Kansas City Chiefs (3/10) v Jacksonville Jaguars (7/2) clash rested after a weekend off. The resurgent Jags carry some momentum coming back from a 27-point deficit and four Trevor Lawrence first-half interceptions to beat the LA Chargers in the wild-card round.

The Buffalo Bills (1/2) and Josh Allen and last year’s runner-up the Cincinnati Bengals (9/5) and Joe Burrow were out to the pin of their collar to advance last weekend and this should be a humdinger. This was the same fixture that was cancelled a few weeks back when Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed.

Take a swing

THE American Express tournament is up next on the USPGA Tour. Ten of the top 20 players in the world will take part, with Masters winner Scottie Scheffler in form John Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, and Will Zalatoris competing in the Pro-Am across three golf courses in California. I like Sam Burns’ chances at 33/1.

The Bet

WE’LL take four-timer on both normal football and the American version: a double on the two Manchester sides to win midweek and the Bengals and the Chiefs to progress at 9/1.

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