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Man City vs Wolves Odds, Pick: Trending Regression Leads to Good Betting Spot

Man City vs Wolves Odds, Pick: Trending Regression Leads to Good Betting Spot article feature image
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Shaun Botterill/Getty. Pictured: Pep Guardiola.

Man City vs. Wolves Odds

Sunday, Jan. 21
9 a.m. ET
USA Network
Man City Odds -550
Wolves Odds +1400
Draw +600
Over/Under 3.5 (+126 / -154)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No) (+130 / -166)
Odds via FanDuel. Get the latest soccer odds here.

Manchester City bounced back from their stunning defeat in the Manchester Derby on Sunday to beat Spurs at home, 4-2, on Thursday.

The Cityzens’ title hopes were nearly all but dead in the first half when Tottenham went up 2-0, but City responded as champions do with four second half tallies in the eventually comfortable home victory.

Wolves had yet another encouraging performance under new manager Julen Lopetegui in the FA Cup replay at home against Liverpool. They lost the match 1-0, but out-created Liverpool in the underlying numbers and held the dynamic Reds attack to almost nothing in shots or chances.

Manchester City will dominate the possession and create most of the chances, but their attack isn’t rated as highly as last season in my numbers and the total remains a touch inflated when you add in Wolves’ poor attacking numbers.

Man City Being Exposed By Good Competition

Manchester City added Erling Haaland in the summer transfer window and the idea was that it would level up an already elite attack. In the first two months of the season, that seemed clear as City converted every chance and dominated opponents. City were finishing at a very unsustainable rate over their xG numbers though, and all of the other underlying numbers suggested that they were slightly worse in attack.

Now that the finishing has cooled off a bit, the cracks in this attack are showing. City are averaging fewer shots per 90, a lower xG per shot and a longer average shot distance than last season. None of that makes sense for an attack that added the best young pure striker in the world, but the tactical change, regression in other areas and loss of Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus all seem to have had an impact.

City are pressing a lot less this year. Opponents are able to complete passes at a higher rate against them, they’re doing marginally less ball winning in the opponents’ final third and the result is fewer shots and chances per 90.

That’s not to say City still aren’t the best team in the world, which my ratings say they are. But there’s a huge difference between last season’s 2.54 xG per 90 and this season’s 2.04 xG per 90. Perhaps 2.54 xG per match was pushing the limits of how dominant a team can really be in the toughest league, but the regression is real.

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Wolves Struggling on Offensive End

Wolves fired Bruno Lage as he wasn’t able to tactically overcome the lack of attacking talent without sacrificing his club’s defensive metrics.

Enter Lopetegui, who has a notorious and clear plan of slow patient build up in possession eventually leading to lots of crossing from the wide areas. Since he became manager, Wolves have been a top 10 defense in their five league matches. If you add in the three cup games against Premier League sides — Liverpool twice and Nottingham Forest  — the metrics improve further.

Wolves were mostly a quick-strike transition based attack under Lage, and they’ve defended by using conservative possession a lot more under Lopetegui. That may help them against lower table teams, but it’s going to be hard to possess the ball and progress it up the pitch on the road at the Etihad.

Bournemouth are the clear worst attack in the Premier League, but Wolves are the second worst in my ratings. They’ve created the fewest big scoring chances in the league, shoot from the longest distance of any team and they’re 18th in non-penalty xG per 90.

I’d trust a bad attack that creates one or two big opportunities to go on the road and get a goal than I do this Wolves team that loves to use settled possession to create long range attempts from outside the penalty area.

The defense may be improved, but Lopetegui has done nothing to show he can solve their attacking problems. They’ve produced 0.62 xG per league match under him.

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Man City vs. Wolves Pick

Wolves’ attack probably will have a hot finishing run at some point on shots from outside the box, but this is a poor matchup for their offense. City have been prone to a few extra high turnovers in their own half this year — as shown on Thursday against Spurs — but Wolves aren’t going to pressure the ball in the opposition half.

City have also shown some defensive weakness in set pieces this year while Ruben Dias has been out — but Wolves are one of the worst set piece attacks in the league.

This is a short turnaround spot for Manchester City too, so Pep Guardiola could opt to rotate. With Wolves’ defense improved under Lopetegui and City’s attack not firing at the level of years past, the under is the side here.

I’d play the under 3.25 at -125 or better.

Pick: Under 3.25 (-120)

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