Will Tottenham Hand Man City a Fourth Straight Defeat?
For English fans, the concept of Saturday night football is a real novelty, so make sure you pencil this one into your diaries, at 2:45 p.m. ET Tottenham host Manchester City with the aim of delaying the title celebrations for at least another week.
Even though City are on the verge of wrapping up the Premier League title, it’s the home team that enters this weekend’s headliner in higher spirits — and by some margin — after a catastrophic week for the leaders in what was undoubtedly the most important string of matches in the club’s season.
The chance to not only progress to the final four of the Champions League but also to reclaim their league crown on home soil against fiercest rival Manchester United were both passed up by Pep Guardiola’s side. It’s a period that, for all of their previous dominance, will live long in the memory of the fans and manager in particular.
It seems unthinkable that the Citizens would bottle the title now, but it has been a damaging spell nonetheless, and this particular fixture has come at a very bad time. Indeed, while a defeat would surely only set back the inevitable, a fourth loss in a row would still put a real damper on what has been a truly remarkable campaign.
It’s not an unprecedented position for their esteemed manager to be in either. Guardiola lost four matches in succession while he was in charge at Bayern Munich in 2015, and the odds indicate that a repeat is by no means out of the question.
While most bookmakers have the visitors to London this weekend as very marginal favorites, William Hill can’t split the sides — both priced at 2.62 (+162) — which is all but unheard of when Manchester City are involved.
There’s a reason why Tottenham shouldn’t be written off, that’s for sure, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men on their longest league winning streak all season (six games) and they are unbeaten in their last 14 league matches. It’s a long time since the words “Wembley hoodoo” were uttered after all, with Spurs taking to their temporary surrounds in superb fashion following a poor start to the season.
Spurs Are Hot
Ten wins and two draws, a run that includes seven clean sheets, in their last 12 league matches at the historic national stadium prove that Tottenham have well and truly adjusted to the hallowed turf. Over that span, Spurs have defeated Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, and the defeat to Chelsea in their first home game of the campaign remains their only home loss in the league.
Factor in that Tottenham are actually fighting for positions as opposed to the runaway leaders, along with the fact that City would have preferred to be crowned champions at The Etihad, and Tottenham’s narrowed underdog status might be a little unwarranted.
Spurs players certainly represent better value in the goal-scorer markets, with Harry Kane — fresh from being awarded the most dubious of goals from the dubious goals panel — the obvious choice. However, with odds as far out as 4.20 (+320) and 4.40 (+340) on Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, respectively, both in good form, there’s potentially a tasty profit to be made in exploiting a fragile defense.
City Are Not
There’s a sense that Manchester City’s hectic schedule is catching up with them, and their lapse in recent weeks has been a result of dips in concentration, energy and performance levels within matches. Indeed, while their goal threat has dwindled somewhat of late overall, with 13 goals in eight games since winning the Carabao Cup back in February, Guardiola’s men have scored just two second-half strikes in that time, with the latest of those coming in the 50th minute at relegation-bound Stoke courtesy of David Silva. Their second-half goal difference over said matches is -5.
Moreover, over the last 12 meetings between these sides, 15 of Tottenham’s 20 goals have been scored after the interval, and in contrast to their visitors, Spurs have been ending matches strongly for some time.
Indeed, up to and including a late, late show at Anfield at the start of February, 12 of the Whites’ last 15 league goals have come in the second half.
With all that in mind, the second-half markets would be my tip for this one, with no shortage of late drama and goalmouth action when these two have come to blows. There have been 34 second-half goals in their last 12 meetings (2.83 per game), so a price of 1.86 (-116) on over 1.5 goals after the interval looks like a smart bet to me.
Meanwhile if it’s a higher price you are after, while I’m not quite brave enough to back a fourth consecutive Manchester City defeat outright, odds of 2.88 (+188) with Unibet on Tottenham to win the second half are long enough to take my fancy.
Photo: Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen celebrates with Dele Alli.
All odds current as of Thursday evening.