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Manchester City vs. Brentford Premier League Preview & Prediction: Bees Will Keep Things Close

Manchester City vs. Brentford Premier League Preview & Prediction: Bees Will Keep Things Close article feature image
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Chloe Knott/Getty. Pictured Brentford FC players.

  • Manchester City hosts Brentford in their final Premier League game before the World Cup.
  • Where does the betting value lie in the fixture?
  • Anthony Dabbundo offers his preview and prediction.

Manchester City vs. Brentford Odds

City Odds -800
Brentford Odds +1800
Draw +800
Over/Under 3.5 (-108 / -112)
Day | Time Saturday | 7:30 a.m. ET
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Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

The final weekend before the World Cup makes this a really difficult spot for most of the Manchester City squad. The Cityzens need the points because they’re trying to chase down Arsenal for the Premier League lead, but so much of their squad has been named to different World Cup rosters. 

Brentford have a few players that will be in the World Cup as well, but not nearly to the extent that their opponents do on Saturday.

City aren’t just dealing with the World Cup looming so close and players not wanting to risk injury. A makeshift backline without fullback Kyle Walker makes them a bit more vulnerable defensively than normal.

The market has continued to expect regression for Brentford in year two. While that has come for the defense — which is no longer a top half unit — their underlying numbers remain right around league average.

Manchester City in Difficult Spot

City are the best team in the league based on every underlying number, but Brentford played them tough in the two meetings last season.

The Cityzens won the two matches, 1-0 away and 2-0 at home, without  conceding a goal. But Manchester City didn’t do much to create chances in those matches either.

Brentford held them to 1 xG in the first meeting and 1.8 in the second away. If you wanted to try to poke holes in the City team, it is notable that they are just third in big scoring chances created.

Despite adding Erling Haaland, they haven’t created as many big scoring chances as last season. They’ve also finished their chances at a ridiculous rate that is unlikely to continue throughout the season.

You’d expect City to over-perform their underlying attacking numbers by roughly 10-15%, and maybe even higher because of Haaland’s plus-finishing ability. However, City have 39 league goals from 26 xG. That is not sustainable for an entire season.

If you were looking for a prime regression spot, this could be it. In fact, we’ve already seen some signs of it. City failed to score at Dortmund in a flat spot between two big league matches. Even a team as dominant as Manchester City won’t be at their best and firing in attack for every match.

Brentford a Tough Team to Crack

Brentford have been excellent at defending without the ball in a compact fashion under Thomas Frank. It’s made them a thorn in the side of multiple big six sides since they joined the Premier League last season. They’ll concede space and shots, but they also average the longest average shot distance allowed in the league. 

The Bees’ effort out of possession gives them a shot in a matchup where City is likely to control 70% or more of the ball. Manchester City should win this match, but Brentford will hang around and capitalize on one or two moments to cover this inflated spread.

They’re no longer an above-average defense as regression in that statistic was inevitable given their lack of talent and over performance last year. They’ve gone from one of the best non-big six sides in the league defensively to a team that ranks 12th in non-penalty xG allowed, 11th in big scoring chances conceded and 12th in passes allowed into their penalty area.

Brentford concede shots and chances in non-dangerous areas but remain a slightly below average defense as a whole.

City could score multiple times from distance and we’d be in trouble, but the mean projections suggest Brentford can keep the City attack in check.

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Manchester City vs. Brentford Prediction

One major strength for the Bees has been their set piece efficiency. Even though City doesn’t concede a ton of set pieces, they have been a bit leaky there defensively.  Brentford is fourth in xG per set piece, while the City defense is eighth in xGA per set piece.

Those slim margins could be the difference between Brentford nabbing a goal or not scoring at all away from home. With such a big spread, one goal is likely to be enough for the Bees to cover the spread.

My projections make Brentford a 1.8-goal underdog and now the spread is more than two goals. Haaland may not be going to the World Cup, but just about every other starter in the City team will be boarding a plane to Qatar after this match.

I’d have bet Brentford +2.25 almost regardless of the spot because of their excellent work rate off the ball and positive xG difference in the league this season. Add in the situation and I’d take Brentford at +2 or better.

The Pick: Brentford +2.25 (-100)

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