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Jon Riley 6th Dec 2010 - 16:28

Ferguson gunning for top spot against Valencia

Manchester Utd v Valencia |19:45 Live on Sky Sports 2

United and Valencia have already qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League but take to the hallowed turf at Old Trafford knowing that defeat in this game could mean the difference between a tie against Barcelona in the last 16 or one against the likes of FC Copenhagen.

For that reason Sir Alex Ferguson will be fielding a strong team against the Spaniards even though the Red Devils next two Premier League matches are at home to current leaders Arsenal and then away at reigning champions Chelsea.

United's legendary manager would have hoped to have progression and first place in the group wrapped up by now, especially after defeating Valencia in their opening group game. Los Che were top of La Liga when a late Javier Hernandez finish earned the visiting team a 1-0 win. A repeat of that scoreline would suit Fergie down to the ground and can be backed at 6/1 in the correct score market. For an exact repeat the scorecast of Hernandez to open the scoring and United 1-0 is priced at a healthy 28/1.

The match betting sees the hosts installed as the rightful favourites at 8/11. The three time European Cup winners are unbeaten in the league this season and undefeated at Old Trafford in fourteen matches.
Valencia dropped to fifth in La Liga after their weekend defeat to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. The two time Champions League runners-up are priced at 15/4 to win the game.

The draw, which would see United through as group leaders, is priced at 13/5.

Unai Emery's team may have qualified but they know that they don't have the players to trouble Europe's elite and if they do meet one of the continent's top teams in the knockout stages they are likely to be found wanting. A win here is their best chance of topping the group and hopefully drawing one of the lesser ranked sides.

Gone are the likes of Villa and Silva but one player standing out in Europe is Roberto Soldado (7/1 First Scorer, 2/1 Anytime). Only Arsenal and Tottenham have scored more goals than Valencia in the opening five group games this season, with that man Soldado netting five of his team's 14 goals so far. The Valencian born striker is possibly Valencia's most likely attacking threat along with the creative Juan Mata (15/2 First Scorer, 9/4 Anytime).

Man Utd's last European tie saw them leave Ibrox with all three points courtesy of a Wayne Rooney. In his hunt for form and fitness the mercurial star is likely to start the game in Manchester. Rooney (7/2 First Scorer, 10/11 Anytime) is also the focus of the William Hill Match Winner offer for this game. If he can score two or more against Valencia you will receive enhanced odds of 5/1.

One man who has found form is the Bulgarian hitman Dimitar Berbatov (4/1 First Scorer, EVENS Anytime). He fired in five goals in United's last league game against Blackburn and will hope that this leads to a scoring run for his team. For Berbatov to score consecutive hat-tricks the price is 25/1.

The aforementioned Javier Hernandez can be backed at 9/2 to open the scoring.

Despite having their weekend game postponed against Blackpool I can still see Manchester United being up for this match. The Red Devil's second string were thrashed at West Ham in the Carling Cup last Tuesday and Ferguson will not accept another midweek horror show.

I feel that United will be too strong for Valencia and will possibly want to send a message of intent to the top teams in Europe that they are just as strong as ever.

I will be backing United to win to nil at 6/4 and Wayne Rooney to score anytime at 10/11.



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