Manchester City vs. Chelsea: Finding Prop, Spread Value in EPL Clash
Manchester City hosts Chelsea this weekend (Sunday, 11 a.m. ET), knowing that a win would move them another step closer to a title that in reality was sewn up some time ago. Sixteen points clear atop the Premier League table with just 10 games remaining, Pep Guardiola’s side is untouchable, and as such, the visitors are in greater need of the points.
What does it mean for you as you look to bet the match? I’ll run through the side I like — and a few props — below.
The Blues slipped out of the top four for the first time since October with a third defeat in four games against City’s Manchester rivals last weekend; Chelsea is in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for the second time in the last three years.
However, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been buoyed by the news that Eden Hazard will be fit after he was forced off in the second half at Old Trafford. But it’s Willian who has arguably been Chelsea’s form player over a difficult period. The 28-year-old could be decisive for the visitors once more, particularly in the absence of compatriot Fernandinho for the hosts.
The Brazilian has scored in each of his last three appearances and in each of his last two starts against the league leaders, so 5.50 (+450 American odds) to score anytime with Betfair is a tempting option given his form.
Without their usual midfield linchpin, it will be up to Ilkay Gundogan to offer that discipline in the middle of the park for the hosts. Shackling the in-form Willian as well as keeping tabs on a roaming Hazard will be no easy task.
Going forward, however, Guardiola will hope to have a full complement of his own; he’s welcomed Gabriel Jesus back from injury, with Raheem Sterling also likely to come into contention. Given the desire to prevent further injuries after a challenging fixture schedule, though, we could see Bernardo Silva get some more game time, and possibly Oleksandr Zinchenko, too.
The recent meetings between these sides have seen no real pattern whatsoever, other than the fact that this is a fixture that rarely ends in stalemate, with three wins and 10 goals apiece in their last six encounters. Over that time, however, the gap between the two sides has never been so great as it is today. Manchester City’s dominance this season is such that they are 22 points clear of the team they will undoubtedly replace as Premier League champions, which is six more than when Chelsea finished way down in 10th in 2015/16.
One thing you can count on is Sergio Aguero to make the headlines, though he perhaps isn’t guaranteed to start, so I would err on the side of caution with regard to betting on the South American to find the net. The Argentine has scored in three of his last four appearances against Chelsea and was sent off in the other, so the in-form forward will hope to be in the news for the right reasons Sunday should he get the nod over Jesus. He’s currently best priced at 2.10 (+110) to score anytime with Betfair.
The fact is that Guardiola may not even need his leading scorer this weekend, and could take the chance to rest the 29-year-old after seven successive starts in just over a month. After all, Manchester City is the runaway EPL leader for a reason, with Guardiola successfully rotating his superb squad over the course of the season.
They’ve won 13 in a row at home in the Premier League, while Chelsea have won just two of their last eight on the road, and only two of their last seven in the league in total. Up against a side with a goal difference of +40 in home league games alone, the Blues are likely to follow in the footsteps of Liverpool (5-0 defeat), Arsenal (3-1 defeat) and Tottenham (4-1 defeat) at the Etihad, losing by more than a single goal.
It’s Betfair again that offers the best price on the Manchester City -1 handicap, and at 2.62, that would be my top tip for Sunday.
All odds current as of Friday evening.