Manchester City have got to stop winning league games eventually, right?
Nothing lasts forever. Just ask Echo & The Bunnymen (and ask your dad about them, kids).
Tottenham might just be the team to stop them in their tracks too. You might not think it to look at their recent away form in the Premier League: a draw and three defeats in the last four. But Spurs won their first four prior to that, and they are second in the division for expected goals difference away from home.
Tottenham do struggle on the road in the big matches though. In fact, for such a highly regarded manager, Mauricio Pochettino has a David Moyes-esque record in such games.
Pochettino's record away from home against the big six
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) November 18, 2017
In fact, Tottenham have only scored once in their last five away games against their top six rivals.
Granted, it was at Manchester City and they did bag two, but considering their largely goal-shy record in big games and City’s excellent defence, the 17/10 on offer that City keep a clean sheet is definitely worth a sniff.
Then again, Spurs do have a surprisingly good recent record against the Citizens. In the last two seasons, Tottenham won three and drew one of the four matches, with an aggregate score of 10-4.
You didn’t expect that, did you?
If Spurs are to get a result, then chances are they will need to score the opening goal of the game. Pep Guardiola’s seemingly unstoppable force have won all 13 league games where they have scored the first goal this season.
By contrast, Tottenham haven’t won any of the six where Hugo Lloris was the first keeper to be picking the ball out of his net. It’s no wonder the visitors are priced at 18/1 to come from behind and win this one.
So as they probably have to score first, who will step up? This will shock you, but Harry Kane (at 11/2) is the shortest priced Spurs player to break the deadlock in this game. He scored against City both home and away in 2015/16 too.
But there’s no fun in tipping him, so how about a few pennies on Christian Eriksen, at 14/1. He actually has more career goals against the blue Mancs than Kane too.
The Dane did score against Stoke recently (though who hasn’t?) but based on recent performances he should have even more to his name.
In the last nine league matches, he has just that one goal, but has taken a total of 19 shots, which smarter folks than me say have been worth 2.25 expected goals.
He may not score in this match, but there’s definitely a goal in the post for Eriksen. Though as it’s Christmas, it might take longer to be delivered.
On the City side of the first goalscorer market, Kevin de Bruyne might be worth a look at 7/1. I tipped him to score at Chelsea in this column and he bagged the winner there though, so that’s probably used up my accuracy quota for this season.
But he’s in fine form with four goals in his last seven league appearances, and he has scored against Spurs in both of his matches against them, so he seems a reasonable punt. That’s not rhyming slang, either.
One punt which form this season suggests will be nailed on is Manchester City to win the second half, which you can get on at 8/11. That’s not a price that will having you ringing work on Monday and telling the boss where to stick his stinking job, but the blue side of Manchester have been simply devastating after the half time oranges and pep talk from Pep.
City have won 16 and drawn one of their second halves this season, scoring 34 goals and conceding just four along the way. Only Manchester United have scored more goals in total than City have bagged after the intervals this season.
Spurs’ second half record is very strong (having won ten and lost only two) but City are on another planet when it comes to this market.
As for slightly more traditional bets, such as ‘both teams to score’ and ‘over/under 2.5 goals’, they’re hard to call as the two teams have had contrasting form in big six matches since the start of last season.
It is particularly pronounced when considering the venue of this match. City have seen over 2.5 goals in five of seven top six clashes at the Etihad since August 2016, and Spurs only two of seven on the road in the same period. Tottenham may have seen both teams score three times, but for City it’s five from seven again.
I think there will be over 2.5 goals, and if you do too then you can get on at 1/2. There have been at least three goals in the last six league meetings in Manchester, City are scoring for fun, and Spurs often play in a bafflingly open way on the road in big games.
But I also think Spurs can dent a usually tight City defence, and so I’ll be on both teams to score, at 4/7.
Put all that together, and my score line prediction for this match is 2-1 to Manchester City, which you can back at 7/1. It’s hardly a ground breaking suggestion, but Pep’s boys have won by that score line in six of their last 20 games, and Spurs’ joint-second most frequent score line in the same period is a 2-1 loss.
That’s how these teams have been rolling lately, and who am I to argue with the weight of history?