BEN CLEMINSON AND BILL ESDAILE WITH THE WEEKEND’S BEST FOOTBALL AND RACING BETS
BOOKIES believe it is Manchester City’s title to throw away this year and the 2012 champions are doing their bit to repay the layers’ faith at the moment.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men are the top flight’s form side, having taken 25 points from the last 27 available, and they are odds-on in most places to finish the season in first place.
On Sunday they should return to the top of the pile – at least until Arsenal visit Villa Park on Monday – when they face Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Contests between these two clubs usually mean one thing – a win for City.
The season began in that fashion, with a 4-0 victory in Pellegrini’s Premier League bow, and they also eliminated the Geordies from this season’s Capital One Cup, albeit after extra time.
In fact Newcastle haven’t enjoyed anything more than a draw in the Premier League against City since 2005 and even the most recent stalemate came back in 2008.
It has been an up and down first half of the campaign for the Magpies that has peaked with wins against Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, and plummeted with defeats against Hull and Sunderland and early exits from both cup competitions.
While their home record is relatively strong, City’s fearsome march means that the red-hot 7/10 favourites should have too much for their hosts.
Averaging 2.85 goals-per-game in the league, they have only failed to score twice, and Pellegrini seems to have ironed out problems with their away form. They have scored 11 in four games on the road and taken 10 points in that spell.
But the Chilean might have to be patient and wait for his side’s class to tell.
Newcastle have gone in level at the break in six of their 10 home Premier League games in 2013-14 and a bigger value call looks like being the general 4/1 about the draw HT-Man City FT double result with Star Sports.
City’s 6-0 annihilation of West Ham in the League Cup on Wednesday says less about their supremacy than it does about the Hammers’ troubles.
They are 13/8 with Star Sports for relegation and that could look a big price by tomorrow evening. Sam Allardyce’s men travel to Cardiff knowing that defeat will cement their place in the relegation zone and widen the gap to the other sides hoping to avoid the drop.
Cardiff reaped instant benefits from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment with their FA Cup win at Newcastle last weekend and morale is sure to be higher in South Wales than east London.
The Hammers might have beaten the Bluebirds twice this campaign – in the league and cup – but both those games came at Upton Park. Cardiff have fared far better in front of their own fans, where they have beaten City, Swansea and West Brom and drawn with Everton, Man United and Sunderland. West Ham have lost five straight away league games.
I’d strongly recommend taking Coral’s offer of 19/20 for Cardiff to claim the three points.
Draw HT-Man City FT (v Newcastle) at 4/1 with Star Sports
Cardiff to beat West Ham at 19/20 with Coral