Man City v West Ham
Sunday April 19, 13:30
Live on Sky Sports 1
It’s been a miserable couple of months for Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City. Being completely outplayed by Barcelona over two Champions League legs can probably be forgiven but their domestic form has been abysmal by their usual standards.
Pellegrini was already long odds-on to get the boot in the summer but with Jurgen Klopp announcing his decision to leave Dortmund at the end of the season, those odds have hardened.
So where has it all gone wrong for the defending champions? Once title contenders, they are now clinging on for a place in the top four with no chance of retaining their title. A run of four games without a win at the turn of the year had alarm bells ringing but they then bounced back with a couple of dominant displays against Stoke and Newcastle.
A 2-1 defeat at Anfield was the catalyst for a further downturn as, since that loss, they have gone on to be beaten three times in five fixtures. It seemed like things couldn’t have got much worse following their 2-1 defeat at Selhurst Park but that proved to not be the case as City were slaughtered by their Manchester rivals at Old Trafford last weekend.
Much has been made of their performance without the ball – little desire to win it back – but I also have concerns about their form even in possession as Sergio Aguero has failed to net in five of his last six league appearances and the less said about Yaya Toure the better.
On to their opponents now and I’m afraid I haven’t got that many positive things to say about West Ham either. I’m just surprised that they haven’t changed their name to West Ham Super-Mare as most of the players have been on the beach for a good couple of months.
Once flying high in and around the top six, The Hammers have slipped into mid-table mediocrity following a spell of two wins in 15 Premier League fixtures. Their only recent success came at home to the truly woeful, Sunderland, and a fortnight ago they gave Leicester their first league victory since January 10th.
If Manuel Pellegrini is on the brink of departing his post then Sam Allardyce is right there with him. England’s greatest ever manager – in his own mind of course – has yet to be offered a new deal by David’s Gold and Sullivan, and while the performances on the pitch may be the main reason, a case could also be made for the owners not being able to find Big Sam among the sea of deckchairs and sandcastles.
Man City [1.28] West Ham [14.0] The Draw [6.6]
Backing Man City at just north of 1/4 is not a proposition that I am remotely interested in. Saying that, given the opposition, I wouldn’t even waste a fiver laying them. In short, I would rather hold on to my cash and invest it elsewhere.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals [1.53] Under 2.5 Goals [2.86]
As tempting as it is to steam into Over 2.5 goals, I think odds of [1.53] are plenty short enough. Only five of City’s last eight in front of their own fans would have seen it land while only four of West Ham’s last eight on the road have followed suit.
Those stats suggest that Under 2.5 goals is the value call, but I have a feeling that The Citizens will trounce The Hammers, which brings me on to my main selection…
Man City -1
This market is yet to fully form yet but it will do nearer kick off. Using the Betfair Sportsbook as a guide, I would expect Man City -1 to be available to back at around the [1.7] mark.
That’s a much more tempting price than the [1.28] on them merely to win as I think Pellegrini and his players will be desperate to appease their public following the debacle at Old Trafford. It’s also worth noting that of their 10 home wins this term, half a dozen of them came by more than one goal.
The goal markets are heavily favouring a high-scoring affair and, a bit like my decision to take City -1 as opposed to them just to win, I think backing Over 4.5 goals ahead of Over 2.5 goals is the better option as well.
Five goals or more in the match is currently trading at around the [4.1] mark and with the home players likely looking to make an immediate impact to settle any nerves, it should become a lot shorter in-play.
Back Man City -1 @ [1.7]
Best Cash Out
Back Over 4.5 Goals @ [4.1]