Premier League – Manchester City v Sunderland
There are plenty of ex-Manchester United players in the Sunderland squad and the likes of John O’Shea, Fraizer Campbell and Phil Bardsley would like nothing better than putting a spanner in the works as far as Manchester City’s title hopes were concerned. But it looks to be asking a lot of Martin O’Neill’s side to end City’s 100 per cent home record in the Premier League as their form has been a little indifferent lately.
Sunderland have won their last two league games at the Stadium Of Light but have generally struggled on their travels lately, losing at lowly Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion without managing to find the net. No doubt the manager already has one eye on next season but he looks to have something to work with as Stephane Sessegnon has troubled the Premier League’s best defenders this term and James McClean has taken the step up from the League Of Ireland in his stride. Jack Colback is another youngster with a bright future while Craig Gordon and David Meyler are hopefully over serious injury. A controversial last-minute goal from Dong-Won Ji gave the Mackems a surprise-and-somewhat undeserved victory over City at home but a league double over Roberto Mancini’s team is priced up at 12/1 and may not have many takers outside the north east.
City average almost three goals a game at the Etihad in the league this season and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill was the first opposition player in two months to score when he gave his side the lead there in City’s last home game, though the hosts still recovered to take maximum points. Undoubtedly, Sunderland will give it a go as O’Neill is not the type of manager to sit back and accept his fate but there simply looks to be too much firepower among the City forwards for the away side’s patched-up defence to contain. Carlos Tevez came off the bench to set up City’s winner against Chelsea and also got a few minutes in the 1-1 draw at Stoke last week. Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko started up front at the Britannia with Sergio Aguero rested but the Argentinian will almost certainly be recalled against Sunderland with Aleksander Kolarov and James Milner also in line for a start. Captain Vincent Kompany could also be ready to resume his role at the heart of the City defence and the title-chasers should comfortably wrap up the three points. City are 13/8 to win both halves and are 5/6 to win to nil.