MANCHESTER CITY SWEET SIXTEEN
It’s now 15 and counting for Manchester City in terms of successive Premier League wins and after such a run of results, autumn’s emerging title race has now turned into nothing more than a spring procession.
There’s no doubt that Pep Guardiola’s men will once again be crowned champions at the end of the season, it’s now just a case of how quickly they do so and perhaps more importantly, how this could aid their hopes of conquering Europe.
The ideal scenario for City, would be to wrap up the title with around five or six matches left remaining and then, if still in the Champions League as expected, the former Barcelona and Bayern boss can put all his eggs in a continental shaped basket.
For such a plan to be facilitated, they will need to continue their impressive streak of Premier League wins and standing in their way of number 16 on Sunday, is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his Manchester United squad of players.
It’s been a difficult week for the Red Devils, as they have played out two bore draws on the road and although it has kept their lengthy away unbeaten run intact, it has ultimately seen them drop four precious points.
Which means when you compare Manchester City’s winning streak and Manchester United’s refusal to lose away from Old Trafford, it means something will have to go come the end of this latest derby encounter.
Just which way will it go? Well with 15 consecutive league wins under their belt, it is incredibly hard to look past the current league leaders and if you decide to back the Etihad outfit, you can get odds of 1.53 if they get the job done.
Summary: Back Manchester City for win number 16
SAINTS OR SINNERS
Remember when Southampton were top of the Premier League table last November? Yes, such a thing happened and with the Saints dreaming of a European tour next season, such hopes have turned into nothing more than a distant nightmare.
Because Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have picked up just one point from the last 27 on offer and suddenly, there are whispers that the St Mary’s outfit may have placed themselves into the relegation conversation.
A discussion that Southampton certainly do not want to be a part of, although if they keep failing to win football matches, that is exactly what will happen and if their unwanted run extends to 10 at the weekend, they will be in serious trouble.
Trouble that could come courtesy of a Sheffield United win and after getting the better of Aston Villa in midweek at Bramall Lane, Chris Wilder will feel that the Blades still have some element of fight left in them.
Which when coupled with home advantage this weekend, makes the Yorkshire outfit a rather attractive proposition to bet on and with Southampton seemingly having no luck at all, 3.80 for Sheffield United to win should not be dismissed.
Summary: Back the Blades to inflict more misery on the Saints
IT MIGHT NOT BE PRETTY
If Tottenham’s win over Burnley last Sunday was impressive, then Thursday’s win over Fulham must be considered functional by comparison and although the latter may have had its detractors, Jose Mourinho will be pleased at a job well done.
Which is really all Tottenham need to keep doing between now and the end of the season and if they can finally emerge with the same consistency that took them top of the table before Christmas, a top-four finish is not off the table.
All they can do is win one game at a time and standing in their way from another three points are Crystal Palace on Sunday, as Roy Hodgson’s men look break the mould of two rather uninspiring bore draws.
If there’s anybody that knows what it means to be functional, it is Hodgson himself and after acting as spoiler for both Fulham and Manchester United’s differing hopes in the past week, the Eagles will look to play the role of party-pooper in North London.
However, this is a Tottenham team that looks like it is finding its stride and they will go into this game as heavy favourites. Which means although backing Bale and company will not make you rich at the end of the week, it will make for good accumulator fodder.
Prediction: Back Spurs to win at 1.40