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After City and Spurs played out one of the greatest Champions League games of all time on Wednesday night, there’s no telling what will unfold at the Etihad on Saturday lunchtime.
What we do know is that this is the third game in a twelve-day trilogy in which both teams have won once. Common logic suggests that, with the sides clearly well matched, a draw is most likely outcome but there’s plenty to consider before reaching that conclusion, not least the fact that City’s dream of winning English football’s first quadruple has now ended.
They will now be doubly determined to not blow their chances of the Premier League title for which they currently hold the slenderest of advantages over Liverpool. While the Reds lead the table by two points, City’s vital game in hand gives them the edge and they know if they win the rest of their games, they will be crowned champions in five games time.
There are still plenty of ‘ifs’ involved but, on paper, this weekend’s clash with Spurs is their biggest test remaining. Win this one and Pep Guardiola will believe they can go and finish the job.
TOP TIP! – Man City to win 3-1 @ 10/1 11.00 +1000 10.00 10.00 -0.10 / Sterling to score a hattrick @ 22/1 23.00 +2200 22.00 22.00 -0.05
Get the best odds for Man City v Spurs and our other featured games with our selected bookmakers below.
What the City boss won’t want is a repeat of the madness of Wednesday night, where the Citizens were 3-2 up inside 21 minutes. While he was clearly delighted his side were able to score so freely, he’ll have been alarmed at how easily Tottenham were able to carve open his defence, and how central defenders Aymeric Laporte and Vincent Kompany struggled against Spurs’ lightening quick attack.
It was Laporte whose errors contributed to both of Tottenham’s opening two goals, with Son Heung-min being the one to profit on both occasions. This weekend, we should expect changes in City’s defence with the extra mobility offered by John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi likely to figure in Guardiola’s thinking.
He will not want a repeat of the toing and froing of Wednesday night, and instead will be looking to be less gung-ho with crucial league points at stake. Therefore don’t expect a repeat of the seven-goal thriller.
For Spurs’ part, while they still need points to ensure a top four finish and therefore Champions League football next season, there is the small matter of a two-legged UCL semi-final with Ajax coming up – and it’s impossible for it not to be a distraction. There’s also the physical and mental toll of Wednesday night, which invariably has more impact on the away side.
Pochettino also has injuries to contend with, with Harry Kane already out for the rest of the season, Moussa Sissoko limping off at the Etihad and Harry Winks still missing out due to an ongoing groin injury. So, it will be a patched-up Tottenham side that lines up on Saturday and we can see it being a tough afternoon for them.
The bookies, for the reasons above, don’t give Spurs a prayer but it does strike us as a little excessive that they are offering a City 5-1 win for the same odds as a 2-1 Tottenham win 28/1 29.00 +2800 28.00 28.00 -0.04 .
While we are veering towards a City victory, we don’t expect it to be a goal-fest and are drawn to the 3-1, on offer from Bet365 at 10/1 11.00 +1000 10.00 10.00 -0.10 . And, given how close he came to scoring a hat-trick in midweek, Raheem Sterling to get one on Saturday is well worth considering, especially at a juicy 22/1 23.00 +2200 22.00 22.00 -0.05 with BetVictor.
TOP TIP! – Everton & United to draw 2-2 @ 6/1 7.00 +600 6.00 6.00 -0.17 / Calvert-Lewin – first goalscorer @ 15/2 8.50 +750 7.50 7.50 -0.13
Their midweek exit from the Champions League at the hands of a Messi-inspired Barcelona was a harsh reminder to Ole Gunner Solkjaer that there is still plenty of work to be done before United can be considered bona fide contenders for Europe’s biggest prize.
There is also still plenty of work left for United to do before they even qualify for next season’s Champions League, with their four-way battle with Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea looking likely to go to the wire.
For Everton, there is little left to play for other than pride although Premier League prize money is based on finishing positions, so there is still a financial incentive for the Toffees to finish the season on a high. And they are still well in the race to be the ‘best of the rest’ – aka seventh place – after a recent good run.
The Toffees also have a fairly good home record against United and so this is far from a given, with Everton fans guaranteed to ensure a Goodison Park cauldron to welcome Solkjaer’s men.
Everton are not full of goals though and 44 from their 34 league games tells the story of a team who are set up by manager Marco Silva to be solid rather than spectacular. The big question is whether they have the creativity to unlock a United defence who will be keen to plug the gaps so badly exposed by Messi in midweek. Solkjaer, on this occasion, will be looking for some solidity from his own back four.
We expect it to be tight and not particularly free flowing, and the 1-1 on offer from Bet365 at 6/1 7.00 +600 6.00 6.00 -0.17 looks very tempting indeed. It’s not inconceivable that the Toffees could take the lead and so the 15/2 8.50 +750 7.50 7.50 -0.13 offered by BetVictor for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to be first goalscorer is worth considering.
TOP TIP! – Cardiff & Liverpool to draw 2-2 @ 40/1 41.00 +4000 40.00 40.00 -0.03 / Hoilett as anytime scorer @ 7/1 8.00 +700 7.00 7.00 -0.14
While City have the edge in the title race due to their game in hand, Liverpool are still within a single result of regaining control of the title race. What the Reds therefore cannot afford to do is slip up against sides who are fighting relegation.
Cardiff, under Neil Warnock’s stewardship, have recently been on the wrong end of some poor refereeing decisions and find themselves in the drop zone, but with Brighton seemingly in a tailspin, the Bluebirds are still in there fighting.
The controversial Warnock will have them fired up and having been so close to taking points off Chelsea at the Cardiff City Stadium a couple of weeks ago, they’ll believe they can take points off Klopp’s men and dent their title hopes.
Warnock has forged a career out of fighting the establishment and the game’s elite and will relish this challenge. And, against all logic, we think the Bluebirds can upset the Reds and take some points.
Whether they have enough to win the game is debateable – they concede too many goals to go big on this – but we do think they can scrap for a point, and so we are going for a shock 2-2 40/1 41.00 +4000 40.00 40.00 -0.03 with Bet365. On the same basis, consider Cardiff’s Junior Hoilett as anytime goalscorer at 7/1 8.00 +700 7.00 7.00 -0.14 with BetVictor.
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