Plenty of punters will wade into a Manchester double on Sunday without thinking twice, but neither City or United make huge appeal at their respective odds and there are other betting angles to consider.
Manchester United were held to a frustrating draw during the week at Old Trafford by Hull. It’s just one win in the last five for Jose Mourinho – and that was the 4-0 thumping of Wigan in the FA Cup. They travel to a Leicester side on Sunday which is desperate for points, and the Red Devils make very little appeal at odds-against.
Incredibly the Foxes have a Champions League last 16 match with Sevilla to look forward to later this month, but they are staring into the face of the Premier League abyss after a sustained poor run of domestic form. With just 21 points for their efforts so far, last year’s champions are a mere two points above the relegation zone. The return of Mahrez and Slimani from Africa Cup of Nations duty is welcome relief for Claudio Ranieri, but he knows that his team must start getting points on the board soon if they are to avoid the unthinkable.
The blue half of Manchester enjoyed a resounding 4-0 win over lacklustre West Ham on Wednesday night, with new signing Jesus scoring on his debut and looking every inch the player he has been built up to be. The fact that Sergio Aguero was left on the bench says everything about the embarrassment of riches at Pep Guardiola’s disposal. For all that though, odds of -435 are uninspiring – especially considering City have only won four of the last ten at the Etihad.
Many doubted Swansea’s decision to install Paul Clement as manager in early January, but in hindsight it is beginning to look like a shrewd appointment. Bottom when he took over, the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern assistant manager has led his new side out of the relegation zone after winning three of his first four league games. The Swans won at Liverpool a few short weeks ago, and will not be the whipping boys that they might have been had they visited here a month or two ago.
Leicester v Manchester United
Backing Leicester to avoid defeat at +125 with 888Sport makes much more appeal than backing the Red Devils to win.
Yes the Foxes have been in atrocious form of late, losing the last three Premier League games in a row to Chelsea, Southampton and Burnley, but the latter two were away games and Chelsea have been imperious this season. It’s that away form that has let Claudio Ranieri down this term, but at home they’ve actually only lost three times in the last 15 matches (Everton, Chelsea, West Brom). Not only that, but with key players returning and a desperate need for points, Leicester are fancied to raise their game for this match. It was only in December that the Foxes turned over Manchester City 4-2 at the King Power stadium, and United are under-priced for victory at odds of -137 .
The 0-0 draw at Old Trafford with Hull has left United 4 points adrift of the top four, and a huge 14 points adrift of leaders Chelsea. That nine-game winning streak through December and January gave the impression that Mourinho had rediscovered United’s mojo, but in truth the only side of note they beat during that sequence was Spurs. The run was brought to an end with the 1-1 draw against Liverpool, and since then the Red Devils are winless in two Premier League games. Worringly, those were not even against top sides. It took a 94th minute Wayne Rooney strike to rescue a point at Stoke, and then there was the failure to break down a resolute Hull team.
This tipster would much prefer taking odds-against about Leicester winning or drawing, than odds-on about a United victory.
Manchester City v Swansea
Manchester City were breath-taking in midweek as they cruised past West Ham to win 4-0, so most punters will be looking for ways to back the Citizens. That’s perfectly reasonable, but such short odds don’t get the juices flowing. Backing Guardiola’s all stars to beat a one or two goal handicap offers better odds, but can they be relied upon?
Of City’s last ten at the Etihad, they’ve only managed to win by two goals twice – a 3-1 victory over Barcelona in the Champions League and a 2-0 win against Watford in the Premier League. In other matches on home soil they have been held to draws by Everton, Southampton, Middlesbrough, Celtic and Spurs, while they were beaten 3-1 here by Chelsea. The remaining two victories were by a single goal against Burnley and Arsenal. Essentially, City can’t be trusted to pull out performances like the one at West Ham week in week out.
Swansea might have been lambs to the slaughter if they’d come to the Etihad earlier in the season, but Paul Clement has overseen a quite dramatic turnaround in his short time at the club. a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace in his first game since taking over has been followed by that 3-2 victory at Anfield and a 2-1 home win over Southampton. In-between the Swans were beaten 4-0 by Arsenal and knocked out of the FA Cup by Hull, but those three vital wins have seen the Welsh club claw their way out of the drop zone.
Yes, Swansea could get blitzed here, but the safer play is the over 3.5 goal mark – which City could surpass on their own if they play like they did on Wednesday night. Both teams have scored in each of the last seven meetings between the clubs, and three of those matches have had four or more goals.
Leicester or Draw
Sunday 5th February, 16:00 GMT
Manchester City v Swansea – Over 3.5 Goals
Sunday 5th February, 13:30 GMT