Wolves 12.00, the draw 6.00, Manchester City 1.25
Cast adrift at the bottom of the Premier League table, defensively unstable, bereft of attacking ideas and playing against a Manchester City side with a rediscovered zest. This could well be a fixture for Wolves fans to watch from behind the couch. Under a duvet. With the TV on mute.
Last weekend City put six past a Norwich side that had previously conceded at a rate of just 1.3 goals per home game. Three days earlier they’d put four past a normally-rigid West Brom side at The Etihad Stadium. With the pressure seemingly lifted City are once again playing the football that put them in such a commanding position in the Premier League title race earlier in the season.
Wolves, on the other hand, continue to go from bad to worse under caretaker manager Terry Connor. They’ve lost their last eight home league games and although they managed to keep a clean sheet away to Sunderland last weekend they’ve conceded an astonishing 41 goals in 17 league games at Molineux.
City are made the 1.25 heavy favourites to pick up all three points. And it’s easy to see why.
Mario Balotelli will complete his three-match ban for the red card he received in the match against Arsenal. The troublesome Italian is Mancini’s only personnel problem going into this game.
In Balotelli’s absence Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero have struck up a partnership that would have been invaluable to Roberto Mancini and his side six weeks ago. The Argentine duo have been playing some sublimely intricate stuff and have scored eight of their team’s 10 goals in the past week-and-a-half.
Tevez has scored four goals in three Premier League games against Wolves, making odds of 2.1 on him improving his record of four goals in two starts since his return to the City side particularly appealing. Aguero is 1.78 to find the back of the net at anytime, but doesn’t look quite as appealing at odds-on prices.
Wolves’ shaky backline will be disrupted even further this weekend due to a knee injury that will keep goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey out of action for around six months. Dorus de Vries is expected to make his debut for the club as a result. Sebastien Bassong does return to the side after serving a one-match ban while Mat Jarvis could return to the starting XI having been a surprising omission for the goalless draw at Sunderland.
With a City win looking like a formality, the question is just how many they will score. I really like the look of the 2.95 available on City -2 goals in the Handicap market. Arsenal and Manchester United were each able to cut through the Wanderers defence with consummate ease in the last month and a free-flowing City side should be able to do similar.
That leads us on naturally to the Over/Under goals markets where Over 3.5 is priced at odds of 2.25 and Over 4.5 can’t be ruled out at 3.90.
Regardless of what United do earlier in the day, City simply have to take three points from this one. They’ll also be keen to improve on their already superior goal difference. Should the Citizens also win the Manchester derby then one draw from United in any of their other three matches would see the sides locked level on points. This year’s Premier League title could yet be decided by goal difference.
Prediction: Man City to win 4-0
Best Bet: Man City (-2 goals) @ 2.95 in the Handicap Market