If there’s ever been a banana skin for the top six sides in the Premier League it’s Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have picked up nine points against this season’s top six, two clear of West Ham, who’s seven point haul is second best.
Wolves are also the only side without a minus goal difference against the league’s leading teams.
Two wins, three draws and two defeats represents an impressive haul. Their position of 11th in the table illustrates the difficulty they’ve had in beating those around and below them in the table.
Their recent 3-1 win over Spurs at Wembley was followed by a home loss to Crystal Palace, a win over Chelsea was followed by defeat to Cardiff, and a draw against Arsenal was followed by defeat to Huddersfield.
A 2-1 win at home to Liverpool last time out sees the midlands side in good spirits for their next examination. Pep’s City.
The wheels threatened to come off Manchester City’s title challenge in December. However, back-to-back defeats to Leicester and Crystal Palace were forgotten about with crucial league wins over Southampton and Liverpool.
Two facile cup wins against Rotherham and Burton Albion can be somewhat discounted.
There were growing question marks over Pep Guardiola’s management credentials after his first season in the Premier League. An absence of a plan B and a suspected incapability to deal with the physical rigour of English football lead to these questions.
Guardiola and City answered those questions resoundingly last year, finishing as champions with a record breaking 100 points.
The point of mentioning this is to highlight the manager’s ability to learn and adapt. This could be a vital aspect of their meeting with Wolves.
Santo’s side delivered a clinic in how to stifle City in August. Filling the space they like to play in, moving the ball so as to negate their pressing game, a 1-1 draw was a victory of sorts.
Can they perform the same trick again? I suspect the Manchester club will show their learning qualities once again to at least secure the three points.
Will City rip through Wolves and put up one of their oft achieved cricket scores? This is where I think we can find a value bet.
The last time we got the three points away at Man City was back in 1999, thanks to this Robbie Keane smash! #OldGold
— Wolves (@Wolves) January 14, 2019
Sergio Aguero has bounced back from illness and is in full training again. Similarly Vincent Kompany is available for selection after recovering from a muscular injury.
Long term absentees Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo remain out.
Nuno Espirito Santo could and should have a full deck to choose from and will benefit, like City, from having rotated his squad for the FA Cup.
Firstly, Man City have to win this match. They sit seven points behind title rivals Liverpool, and their good work in beating Jurgen Klopp’s side at the Etihad stadium will be undone without three points at the same venue tonight.
Secondly, once bitten twice shy for Guardiola and City. They will remember the number Wolves put on them early in the season. Even if that appears quite some time ago, subsequent results show that Wolverhampton Wanderers enjoy the prospect of playing top sides. City should be ready.
Defensive efficiency on the road has stood to Wolves. They average only 1 goal conceded per game. Allied to that, they’re undefeated in the league in away games against the top six. A 3-1 win over Spurs at Wembley and a pair of 1-1 draws away to Man United and Arsenal are strong endorsements.
The bet here is for Wolves to prevail with a handicap.
Wolves +2 to win