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Rupert Wyman 27th Dec 2010 - 16:55

You can go further if you back Berba

Manchester United will look to extend their lead at the top of the table against a Birmingham City side that is perilously close to the relegation zone and are just 3/1 to face the drop.

They looked comfortable in the Premier League last season when as one of the newly promoted clubs, they consolidated their league status with a mid-table position at the end of the season.

They may have strengthened their team in the summer by signing the giant striker Zigic and the ex-Arsenal midfielder Hleb, but they are struggling to get results.

Man United may be short for some at 8/15 but there could be some value.  History is not on Birmingham's side, United are unbeaten in their last 23 matches in all competitions against City.

Birmingham City managed to get three points against Chelsea recently but Ancelotti's team failed to take their chances and the result did not reflect the way the game was played.  The draw is as big as 14/5 and a home win is 11/2.

Birmingham lost their last match to Wolverhampton 1-0 away from home and they are struggling in-front of goal. They have won two of their last six games at home and I fancy Man Utd only to score at 5/4.

Birmingham's top scorer in the league is their midfielder Gardner who has weighed in with an almighty four goals. Zigic has looked poor and will pose no problem to the United defenders and if Berbatov is on fire the double result Man Utd/Man Utd at 5/4 could be perceived as easy money once the game has finished.

If you look past Birmingham's fortunate win at home to Chelsea, their last home league win was at home to Blackpool at the end of October. I think an in-form Man United will take the Blues apart and you can back Man Utd -3 goals in the match handicaps market at 10/1.

If Man Utd score early, there could be plenty of goals. If you want a more secure bet on one of the goal markets, you can get 21/20 for over 2.5 goals. Man United have had low scoring wins against Sunderland,  Arsenal and Valencia recently but they are all better than an underperforming Birmingham City side.

Man United put seven goals past a poor Blackburn side last month and Berbatov scored five of them. He is as big as Even money to score anytime and 25/1 to grab a hat-trick.  He has scored thirteen goals in the league this season and he is starting to justify that big transfer fee.

Sir Alex should have Nani back after injury but Scholes is out with a groin problem. McFadden is a long-term absentee for City.

I am not a fan of backing odds-on ninety minute markets but I can only see a Man Utd victory and even money for over 2.5 goals is a safe alternative if you want to have a punt at a bigger price.



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