MANCHESTER CITY host Chelsea on Saturday from The Etihad. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets from the televised clash.
Manchester City v Chelsea | Saturday 23rd November 2019, 17:30 | Sky Sports
The big game of the weekend takes place at The Etihad on Saturday tea time. Can Chelsea’s in-form and vibrant squad upset Pep’ Guardiola's men? Or will the champions teach the young guns a lesson?
It seems to have passed many by that Chelsea are now actually above City in the table; a few weeks back the Blues were 12/1 shots to finish in the top two and City were massively odds-on. Chelsea have halved in price but the Blue Moon remain extremely short at 1/20 on Betfair, however there’s some 2/11 on the Exchange which still seems short to me.
It’s increasingly hard to have faith in this City team; they used to be a sure fire thing but the absence of Aymeric Laporte has had colossal consequences. I get the feeling that if this gap increases more week-on-week it could force Pep and co to give ultimate focus on the much craved Champions League. That in turn could give Chelsea a real tilt at finishing ahead of the Citizens.
I actually thought Maurizio Sarri did a good job getting this team into the top four, the final of a domestic cup and winners of the Europa League – that record would be heralded if it was Frank Lampard in charge instead of the chain-smoking Italian. However, you get the feeling that even if Chelsea fail to get to any finals or win any silverware this campaign, they will still be happier than last, which is strange but understandable nevertheless.
Having a club legend in charge will always buy you more time, but Lamps has done an admirable job so far and is looking the real deal. The club has been fragmented between players, staff and fans for a while but since the former England international has come in those facets have been knitted together to form a collective spirit.
You could argue that the international break came at an unwelcome time for the Blues. Prior to the two-week hiatus they were securing win after win with six league victories in a row to their name. They’ll be hoping that the momentum is still with them and I certainly think they could trouble a City side that are far from watertight at the back end of the pitch.
Christian Pulisic should be fit to play after taking a knock on international duty with USA but Frank has a selection dilemma to ponder. With the influential Jorginho returning from suspension it will be interesting to see if he comes straight back in for the now fit again N’golo Kante; Matteo Kovacic has excelled this season and it would be difficult to drop the Croatian from the starting XI.
In theory, Lampard could play all three if they really want to beef up the midfield but that would mean that one of Willian, Mason Mount or Pulisic would have to settle for a place on the bench. It’s a measure of how strong this squad remains despite their transfer ban.
Guardiola saw midfield duo Rodrigo and David Silva recover quickly to be involved in their defeat to Liverpool a fortnight ago and both could feature here alongside Kevin De Bruyne in the middle of the park. City remain top of the tree when looking at the underlying performance data though as they rack up an average of 2.90 goals per-game when looking at the raw stats but their Expected Goals (xG) for is at 3.2.
So City could do with being a touch more clinical. It was these numbers that made them pre-match favourites away at Anfield but it’s their naivety and propensity to give up good chances on the break that’s been their Achilles heel this season.
The betting angles
I’m far from inclined to back the hosts at skinny 4/9 quotes against a dangerous opponent here. Instead I’ll head to the goals market and take the 4/5 available with Bet365 on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score.
Goals look a good thing here when taking the records into consideration; Over 2.5 Goals has landed in 11 of Man City’s last 13 league games, it’s also copped in the last six Chelsea away games. What’s more, the Blues have bagged two or more goals in their last five on the road in the Premier League which shows their ambition going forward. They should cause some problems for the Citizens here.
I’m more than happy to delve into the card market for this one too. I’ve noticed a visible change in the aggression of Manchester City this season after been well disciplined in the past few years. It seems that when things aren't going their way they commit more fouls and a more likely to be booked for dissent.
Last season City picked up just 44 yellows and one red in their 38 games in the league, an average of just 1.20 cards per-game. This term, however, the Citizens have picked up 24 yellows and one red in their opening 12 league games, averaging over two cards per-game. They’re also averaging over two cards per-game in the Champions League so it’s been a consistent theme this term.
We can back 20+ Manchester City Booking Points at 10/11 with SkyBet and I expect that price to drop come kick-off. They’re up against a much more dangerous team, who will have more possession than most teams going to The Etihad you’d think. The stats back this one up and Chelsea have the likes of Pulisic, Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi who can draw fouls from their counterparts.