Who needs divine intervention when you have the Holy Trinity leading your attack?
Manchester City v West Brom, Saturday 5.30pm, Sky Sports 1
Manchester City’s title dreams disappeared between February and March with three defeats on the spin to Leicester, Tottenham and Liverpool. It coincided with Manuel Pellegrini’s announcement that Pep Guardiola was taking over at the Etihad Stadium in the summer, and for many of the journalists and pundits it seemed reasonable to think that this announcement had put Manchester City off their game.
It’s a fair assumption – albeit you could argue it’s a touch lazy. If the boss in Power Tower said he’d be leaving in the summer, you can guarantee there’d be a few weeks of clocking off early and maxing out the company credit card on luxury items we really don’t need (replica WWE belt, life-size statue of Steve Guppy, a Segway made to look like Thunderbird 3).
However it may not be down to Pellegrini’s imminent departure, and rather a couple of injuries which broke up City’s very own Holy Trinity and derailed a title charge.
Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, for one reason or another, have only started seven league games together for Manchester City this season. In those seven league games the Citizens have won four, drawn two and lost one, picking up 2.0 points per game. In the 24 games that the three did not start City’s average points per game haul is 1.7 points per game, but it’s their goalscoring record that interests us most.
When City’s Holy Trinity have all started in the league, Pellegrini’s men have scored a whopping 19 goals – including hammerings of Newcastle (6-1), Crystal Palace (4-0) and Bournemouth (0-4). That’s an average of 2.7 goals a game compared to 1.5 goals a game when at least one of the three does not start.
Most notably Sergio Aguero is benefitting from the craftsmanship of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in behind. The striker has scored 11 goals in the seven games the trio have started – an average of 1.57 per game. In the other 16 games Aguero has started, he’s scored just six – an average of just 0.38 goals a game. The Argentinian is lethal in front of goal generally, but when he’s having opportunities delivered to him on a silver platter his ruthlessness is a different level.
It could be a very different title race if Manchester City had some of the luck Claudio Ranieri is having on the injury front. That’s clearly what happens when you’re hair looks like it is made from a unicorn’s mane.
Heading into the clash with West Brom, and Tony Pulis should be dreading the thought of seeing De Bruyne, Silva and Aguero on the team sheet. If all three do make it on, then Manchester City to win 3-0 at looks like a perfect value punt.
The Citizens have scored exactly three goals in the last five matches against the Baggies (winning 3-2, 3-1 twice and 3-0 twice) and it is that City score exactly three goals again. Despite conceding more goals at home than Sunderland (!) this season, we fancy City to win to nil at though, with West Brom having just 35 shots on target in their 15 games on the road this year. That’s a woeful average of just 2.3 average shots per away game, and should mean Willy Caballero sleeps soundly on Friday night.
The 3-0 correct score has us more than interested, particularly after watching Manchester City explode out of the blocks to go three goals ahead away to Bournemouth inside 20 minutes. If the deadly trio all start, and if Pellegrini isn’t too distracted by the looming second leg of a Champions League quarter-final with PSG, then that shot makes plenty of appeal.