Manchester City vs Wolves | Tuesday 2nd March 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Table-topping Manchester City welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night, hoping to extend their record-breaking winning run.
The Citizens picked up their 20th consecutive win, an English football record, against West Ham in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off and will fancy their chances of edging closer to Ajax’s top-flight record of 26 in a row here.
Those 20 wins have formed the back end of a 27-game unbeaten streak, which has been built on their incredible defence – seeing them register 19 clean sheets in that time.
The secret of that unbelievable record has been summer signing Ruben Dias. The Portuguese centre-back has formed a formidable partnership with England defender John Stones, that became even more impressive when they both scored on Saturday afternoon.
It meant that in the 16 games they’ve started together, City have conceded less goals (3) than the pair have bagged between them (5). It would have made City to win to nil worth considering, but at 3/4 there’s no value there.
Interestingly, Dias and Stones are now 10/1 and 12/1 to score in this one, as well as being 5/1 and 8/1 to have a headed shot on target, respectively.
They face a Wolves side that are (surprisingly) unbeaten in their last five league games, picking up three wins and two draws, having been winless in eight before that (D3 L5).
They have, however, won just once away from home since Raul Jimenez’s injury, with that victory coming against a Southampton side that I think my team Oldham Athletic would be optimistic of getting a result against.
That uptick in form has been driven by their creative players with Pedro Neto (1 goal, 2 assists) and Ruben Neves (3 goals, 1 assist) involved in five of the six goals they’ve scored during that run. The Portuguese pair are doing their bit to inject goals into a side that has averaged a meagre one goal per game since losing their talisman.
Another player doing his bit to drag Wolves towards the top half, though he isn’t showing up in terms of stats, is enigmatic winger Adama Traore.
The Spaniard hasn’t registered a single goal or assist in his 25 Premier League appearances this season, but that hasn’t prevented him from being a major influence for his side – which has included averaging 1.5 key passes per game (more than last season when he had 9 assists).
City fans will remember all too well how he terrorised their defence last season, scoring twice in a 2-0 smash-and-grab at the Etihad in October 2019. Wolves had 24% possession in that game, and it’s likely to be a similar story here – meaning they’ll need to bide their time and wait for their opportunities on the counter.
That should spell difficulty for whoever is likely to be covering him. Adama has started on the right in his last three league starts against the Blues, but has lined up on the left in the last couple of games.
It makes it difficult to know for sure who he’ll be up against, but I’d keep an eye on full-backs Joao Cancelo (7/2) and Kyle Walker (10/1) for cards, as well as midfielder Rodri (11/2).
The price on Walker, in particular, really appeals and I’ll definitely be taking that should they start up against each other. Traore has been fouled 50 times in his last 14 Premier League starts (3.57 per game), while Walker commits the 2nd most fouls per 90 for City – with 13 in seven starts.
Elsewhere, it feels inevitable that Pep Guardiola’s side keep the gravy train rolling here and the bookies seem to think so too.
City are as short as 1/6 to take all three points, with Wolves out as long as 18/1 and the draw priced at 6/1. It makes betting on either side somewhat difficult, with even City to win and Under 3.5 offering little value at 8/11, though I have found an angle I like.
I’m taking Half-Time Result: Manchester City 1-0 at 2/1 with bet365.
The Citizens are the best ‘first half’ team in the league, leading eight of their 13 league games at the break. Of those eight, five of them were by a single goal to nil.
Wolves, on the other hand, are typically one of the poorer first half sides. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have failed to score before the break in 10 of their 13 away league games, trailing 1-0 at the half in five of those games.
In fact, in their four defeats away to ‘top six’ sides already this season, they’ve trailed by this scoreline at half-time on three separate occasions.