Toothless Tigers To Lose Without Scoring

Steve Bruce Lots of love for Jose MourinhoThe English Premier League mismatch between Manchester City and Hull looks like the perfect game in which to back a hot home favourite to beat a negative away underdog without conceding a goal at what are remarkably generous odds.

Hull has drawn the short straw on its return to the English Premier League but at least the Tigers are getting their most difficult road matches out of the way. Hull’s first assignment was away to Chelsea and, following a 1-0 home victory over Norwich, the Tigers are back on the bus and travelling to play Manchester City. It is the attitude of Hull and its manager, Steve Bruce, as well as its scoring statistics, both this season and last season, that makes backing Manchester City to win to nil so attractive.

One could have been forgiven for mistaking Bruce for a Chelsea supporter at Stamford Bridge. Bruce was effusive in his praise of Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and the Hull boss had his team in the wrong headspace to do anything other than cop a hiding. It was as if Bruce had conceded defeat before the game had kicked off. It appears that Bruce is targeting English Premier League matches from which he thinks that his Hull team can derive wins and draws and not concerning himself with what are probably hopeless causes.

In all honesty, if Bruce is thinking like that then it makes sense. Hull’s results away to Chelsea, Manchester City and the other legitimate English Premier League title contenders will not determine its fate. Hull’s final ladder position will come down to how it performs against fellow promoted sides Cardiff and Crystal Palace, as well as the other sides that are not really in the race for European spots. Hull’s next four top-flight games – home matches against Cardiff, West Ham and Aston Villa, with a trip to Newcastle between its dates versus the Bluebirds and the Hammers – are much more important than its clash against Manchester City.

Hull scored fewer English Championship goals than any other top-12 side last term and it had only three shots versus Chelsea – two on target and one wide of the mark – in its one-sided 0-2 loss at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the English Premier League season. And Hull mustered only seven shots in its subsequent 1-0 home defeat of Norwich, scoring from one of the two that were bound for goal.

Instead of backing Manchester City at 1.18 with Paddy Power to collect three points versus Hull, get stuck into the very attractive 1.83 that the same bookmaker is offering about the Citizens winning with a clean sheet. Surely the right odds should be around the 1.50 mark, which would equate to Manchester City beating Hull to nil two-thirds of the time.

Also in the English Premier League, West Ham, unbeaten in all competitions, is too big at odds of 2.00 with most of the bookmaking fraternity to overcome Stoke at the Boleyn Ground. West Ham deserves to be three from three – it had the better chances in its 0-0 draw at Newcastle – and it should have too much firepower for a Stoke team that does not carry a serious goal threat in elite company. West Ham won the last meeting between the sides, Jack Collison’s goal earning the Hammers their 1-0 win at Stoke in March 2013.

On a line through Brighton, Derby is a good bet to defeat Burnley in the English Championship. Derby beat Brighton 2-1 by the seaside two weeks before Burnley slumped to a 0-2 loss to the Seagulls at the same venue. Furthermore, while Burnley defeated Yeovil 2-0 at home, Derby came back from Huish Park with a 3-0 win over the Glovers. Derby thrashed one of English League One’s top teams, Brentford, 5-0 on Tuesday and it is worth backing at odds of 1.95 with, among others, Coral and Paddy Power, to beat Burnley.

Brighton had got its campaign up and running after a slow start and it is appealing at odds of 1.80 with Bet365 to deepen Millwall’s misery. Millwall lost Kenny Jackett to the Wolves job during the summer break and its poor performances so far this term have earmarked it as a side to oppose whenever possible. Brighton had the better of its English Championship games against Millwall last term.

Like Millwall, Tranmere is an English lower-league team that merits opposing for the foreseeable future and its Saturday opponent, Oldham, is 2 with Bet365. There is no shame in Oldham’s three losses out of five this season, with Derby in the English Championship and both Peterborough and Walsall likely to be in the English League One title race. On a line through Peterborough, one would have to back Oldham to widen its English League One points gap over Tranmere to eight.

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