Manchester City v Cardiff Wednesday April 3, 19:45 Live on Sky Sports
Relentless City to return to the summit
Manchester City briefly touched 1.20 to win the Premier League on Sunday and Liverpool drifted right out to 5.00 before Hugo Lloris' late clanger at Anfield gifted the Reds all three points in injury time against Tottenham. Had the game ended 1-1, the Citizens would have gone in to Wednesday's game with Cardiff knowing they'd remain top of the league even if they lost but there's no let up now and victory will only see them edge ahead again by a point.
Of City's remaining seven fixtures, this is most definitely their easiest and, in all likelihood, they would have been looking to save their Get Out of Jail Free card at Old Trafford or at home to Spurs. Either way, the breathing space would have been most welcome as the Premier League finishing line draws ever nearer but that late goal was a real fillip for the neutrals as well as for Liverpool fans. Every game from now until May 12 looks like being must win now and we look set for the most exciting title race since 2012.
It may be an easy game on paper but Pep Guardiola won't let his Citizens rest on their laurels and it's hard to make a case for taking on the hosts, even at only 1.08. They encountered a massive scare at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea in the FA Cup two weeks ago but they've been relentless in the Premier League of late - winning 11 of their last 12 since they lost three games in four in December.
City have won 16 of their last 17 Premier League home games and that's highly likely to read 17 from 18 on Thursday morning.
Luckless Cardiff starting to look doomed
Manchester City fans will be bemoaning Liverpool's latest fortunate finish but poor Cardiff fans have far more to complain about after Sunday's defeat at home to Chelsea. The Bluebirds were matched at a low of 1.45 to take all three points against a largely ineffective Chelsea side and they deserved at least a point.
As poor as Chelsea were, the Bluebirds played well again but fate and the officials contrived to see them denied a vital victory. Cardiff were deprived of a couple of clear-cut penalties and Antonio Rudiger was shown a yellow card for bringing down Kenneth Zohore when many felt he should have seen red with the hosts still leading 1-0 but even worse was to come. Cesar Azpilicueta's 84th minute equaliser was clearly offside but somehow the assistant's flag stayed down and there was an air of inevitability about Ruben Loftus-Cheek's injury time winner.
It really did feel like a defining moment and with the likes of Burnley and Southampton both collecting three points over the weekend, Cardiff are now just1.20 to be relegated. The Bluebirds had won three of their previous six before Sunday and they're yet to play Burnley, Brighton and Fulham, so they still have a chance to safe themselves but they're five points adrift of safety now and it's not looking good.
Cardiff boss, Neil Warnock, was understandably fuming after the Chelsea game and he's already resigning himself to defeat at the Etihad it seems.
"I've had one kick in the teeth after another this season and the players have as well. But we've always bounced back. So, we'll probably play the 23s at City and get ready for Burnley."
His threat to play the youngsters was very much tongue-in-cheek but he's going to have his work cut out to lift the squad after Sunday and I suspect Wednesday's game has already been written off mentally.
Guardiola's Citizens impossible to oppose
Cardiff have lost all ten of their Premier League away matches against the 'big six' conceding an average of 2.7 goals per game and Warnock has managed a side away at City six times in total and he's yet to see a goal scored in his favour. He's lost four and drawn two and Cardiff lost the reverse fixture 5-0 in September so even with the risk a slight worry over Sergio Aguero's fitness, it's hard to make a case for backing Cardiff, although 48.00 is one big price for any team to win a Premier League match!
It's almost impossible to envisage anything but a home win but with City trading at such a prohibitive price in the outright market, it makes sense to seek out value in the side markets...
Value siding with City in the handicap markets
If you want to side with City in the correct score market and you want to follow the seasonal stats then 3-1 should be your selection given five of their home matched have already finished 3-1 this term. And given three of their last four wins, and their last two at the Etihad, have seen City still drawing nil-nil at the break, around 4/1 about Draw/Manchester City in the Half Time/Full Time market will make some appeal too maybe but I'm not convinced either will pay dividends here.
Over 2.5 goals is trading at very long odds-on but that's hardly surprising given 88% of Manchester City home games see at least three goals scored. Over 3.5 is also odds-on and again, with 62% of games at the Etihad producing at least four goals scored this season, we can't argue with the odds. We can, however, question the likelihood of Cardiff scoring?
City to win to nil is also a heavy odds-on chance so it doesn't make an awful lot of sense taking the odds-on about Over 3.5 Goals when the away side are more likely to fail to register than they are to score when you can back City -3 goals in the handicap market at an industry-best 13/8 with the Sportsbook.
Other than in their away trip to Bournemouth last month, City have been starting matches at 100mph, creating chance after chance, and an early goal could set Cardiff up for a bit of a hiding. I'm more than happy to take the 13/8 for -3 goals and the industry-best 7/2 about them -4 looks tasty too.
Same Game Multi
If you fancy combining two or more scenarios to build a bet that pays handsomely, click on the Same Game Multi tab at the top of the Sportsbook market and pick two or more selections to build a wager. For example, Manchester City -3 goals and Raheem Sterling to score pays £3.32 for £1 stake.
1 ½ pts Manchester City to win -3 goals @ 13/8 (Sportsbook)
1 pt Manchester City to win -4 goals @ 7/2 (Sportsbook)