Brentford v Manchester City: Are goals on the agenda again for the charging champions?

Brentford host Manchester City on Thursday night and Steve Rawlings envisages another glut of goals for the free scoring Premier League leaders...

Bees looking to bounce back after Brighton setback

Brentford kicked off their first ever Premier League campaign with an impressive 2-0 victory over local rivals Arsenal and they've largely surpassed expectations so far.

After 17 games they've accrued 20 points (ten at home and ten away) and having begun the campaign trading at just a little over even money to make an immediate return to the Championship, they're now trading at around 11.0 in the Relegation market, despite losing 2-0 to Brighton on Boxing Day. That was the Seagulls first Premier League victory in 12 and Brentford fans will be disappointed with the result given the stats and their impressive enough record on the road.

The two teams shared equal possession over the 90 minutes, but the Bees edged the xG (0.97 - 0.85) and they had 16 shots to Brighton's 15.

The only stats that matter, goals, went against Brentford though and Thomas Frank's side started far too slowly to deserve anything from the game, and it was arguably their most disappointing performance away from home since they lost 3-1 to Burnley back in October.
Prior to Boxing Day, they'd been cruelly denied victory at Leeds by a 95th minute Patrick Bamford equaliser and they'd been beaten 2-0 at Spurs but Tottenham are a whole different kettle of fish under Antonio Conte and Frank will be wanting a lot more intensity on Wednesday night.

Having beaten the Gunners in the season opener, the Bees lost five of their next six at home so despite drawing 3-3 with Liverpool, their form at the Brentford Community Stadium was starting to be a concern. They do appear to have stopped the rot at home now though and following back-to-back wins against Everton (1-0) and Watford (2-1) the Bees are looking for their third home win in-a-row.

City in search of a perfect ten

Having lost their opening fixture of the new season, away at Spurs, and having dropped points at home to Southampton (0-0) and Crystal Palace (0-2), the defending champions, Manchester City, have really found their mojo now.

Following their bizarre 6-3 victory at home to Leicester on Boxing Day, the Citizens have won nine Premier League games in-a-row and having been matched at a high of 3.15, they've now been matched at a low of just 1.25 to win their fourth title in five seasons.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and three points is always better than a game in hand so the fact that they've been able to plough on through over the last couple of weeks, while most clubs have seen matches postponed due to the pandemic, has been a massive plus for Pep's charges.

Having played 19 games to reach the midway point of the season, City are currently six points in front of Liverpool and Chelsea, although the Reds do have a game in hand, and they're going to take some stopping.

City return to North London on New Years Day to face a red-hot Arsenal and their next Premier League match after that is at home to Chelsea so this will be viewed as an important fixture for Pep.

With those two fixtures looming large, three points on Thursday will be seen as vital and it will also see City cap the year off nicely. Perp's men have now won 35 of their 43 Premier League games in 2021 (D2 L6) and that already surpasses the previous record of 33 English top-flight victories in a calendar year, set by Liverpool in 1982. Victory against Brentford may well set a record that will never be broken.

Are goals on the agenda again for the charging champions?

It's very difficult to look past the visitors but they're going to slip up sooner or later and at 1.18 in the outright market, City look short enough if they're still without Kyle Walker and Rodri on Thursday night. Walker's pace at the back is a huge asset and it's very obvious how important Rodri is to City. They've conceded two counter-attack goals in 16 games when Rodri's played this season and five in three games when he hasn't!

Those two are key when it comes to stopping counter attacks and when you play in the opposition's half as much as City do, they're going to be missed.

Their absence has certainly not impacted on City's ability to find the back of the net though and despite Walker missing out in each of their last four and Rodri not playing against Leicester, City have scored 17 goals in their last three games!

They've also conceded in six of their last nine in all competitions though so with Walker and Rodri doubtful again on Thursday, Yes at around 6/4 in the Both Teams to Score market looks more than fair given Brentford have found the net in 13 of the their 17 Premier League games played so far this season.

City have won their last nine in-a-row in the Premier League and in eight of the those nine matches they were winning at both half time and full time so playing Man City/Man City at around 1.7 in the Half Time/Full Time market makes plenty of sense but I'm going to keep things simple and stick with the goals markets.

There have been at least three goals scored in nine of City's last ten games played in all competitions with the only outlier being their home game against an ultra-tight Wolves. City won that match 1-0 and that's the only goal Wolves have conceded in their last five games!

City have scored at least four goals in their last three games and any of the Overs look worth taking. The 1.55 about Over 2.5 looks generous and so too does around 2.4 for Over 3.5 but I'm happy to take a small chance on Over 4.5 at around 7/2 given goal difference could yet be a factor this season.

City edged out Manchester United on goal difference in the 2011/12 season, so they know how important it is. It's been quite apparent over the last few matches that Pep's side have not let up once in front and another glut of goals can't be ruled out.

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