Manchester CIty's domestic woes against the top teams is set to continue
Chelsea v Manchester City, Saturday 5.30pm, Sky Sports 1
Manchester City’s season is resembling a story of two halves. And while this may be the opening line to what sounds like an ill-informed and irrelevant cliche spouted by an armchair pundit, it’s actually quite notable.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men have blown away sides in the bottom half of the top flight. They’ve won 15, drawn three and picked up an average of 2.67 points per game against teams between 11th and 20th. They’ve also scored an average of 2.44 goals a game in those matches, and have dished out numerous hammerings – 6-1 against Newcastle, 5-1 and 4-0 against Bournemouth, more 4-0 victories against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, plus a 4-1 spanking of Sunderland. It’s been one-way traffic, and no side has been more dominant against bottom half teams than City.
However, against the top half of the table it’s an ultimately bleaker tale.
Manchester City’s record against top half sides this season reads won two, drawn three and lost nine. They’ve picked up just nine points from a possible 42 and sit in 18th spot in the table against top half teams.
It’s a remarkably poor showing which includes home defeats to Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester United, West Ham and Liverpool this season.
Their only two wins against top half sides this season are a 3-0 win at home to Chelsea in August and a 3-1 home win against Southampton in November. Chelsea can exact a measure of revenge on Saturday afternoon.
While Manchester City blew Chelsea away earlier in the campaign, this is a very different opposition they face on Saturday. Guus Hiddink tasted league defeat with Chelsea for the first time last week, in a lacklustre 1-0 defeat away to Swansea, and it’s unlikely that his side will so casually roll over and have their belly tickled two weeks on the spin.
If the season had started when Hiddink had taken over, Chelsea would currently be sat in fifth spot a point ahead of Manchester City, so don’t let their current league positions sway your judgement. The Dutch gaffer has taken points off Manchester United home and away, as well as beating Arsenal and Southampton on the road. His record against top half clubs reads won two, drawn four and lost none.
The wise old traders in Power Tower have taken note of City’s shoddy record and have Chelsea as the favourites, with the visitors to Stamford Bridge shots. The value however could be on the draw at , specifically the 1-1 draw at . Six of Chelsea’s seven home games under Hiddink have finished all square, and City and Chelsea drew 1-1 in both league games last season.
If you like a little extra spice with your bet, it might be worth backing 0-0 at half-time and 1-1 at full-time at odds of . Almost half of City’s away games have been goalless at the break, and Manuel Pellegrini’s men could hold off any Chelsea onslaught until after the oranges. More dropped points against a top half side could not only pocket you a nice winner, it also puts West Ham and Manchester United slap bang in the mix for a Champions League spot once again.