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City slickers to run riot

Andy Schooler and Ben Coley preview Sunday's action in the Barclays Premier League.

Last Updated: 01/12/13 at 16:35 Post Comment   

Manchester City should be much too strong for Swansea

Manchester City should be much too strong for Swansea

Hull v Liverpool (1405)

There is yet to be a game at the KC Stadium this season to feature more than two goals but with the Liverpool strike force in town this could well be the day. Look down the list of teams Hull have hosted so far and it's a who's who of relegation candidates - Aston Villa, currently 12th, are the highest team in the table to have visited. That puts into perspective Hull's strong home record, one which has seen them concede just twice. But the fact is the cracks are beginning to appear - defeat to 10-man Crystal Palace last week made it just one win in seven and hardly bodes well for the arrival of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge et al. Suarez was a constant threat in last week's thrilling Merseyside derby and could easily have had a hat-trick with Tim Howard twice denying him with good saves and Joe Allen inexplicably refusing to pass to him when a goal was all-but certain. That was all achieved just over 60 hours after playing in Uruguay so a fully-rested Suarez will surely be relishing sinking his teeth (sorry) into Hull's defence. He now has 10 goals in eight league games and that run has brought doubles against Fulham, West Brom (as part of a hat-trick) and Sunderland. Another brace in this one is 9/2; tempting but a pretty short price in this market. Instead I'm going to turn to another market in order to get with Liverpool, namely the half time/full time one. Here Liverpool can be backed at 31/20. I'm convinced they'll have too much class for Hull, who came up well short against Southampton earlier this month. When you note that 18 of Liverpool's 24 goals this term have come before half time you can see why I can easily see them being ahead at the interval too. They've been up nine times at the break so far this season and have won seven of those games. For me, this is the best way to go on this match.

Verdict: Hull 0 Liverpool 3 (AS)

Opta stats:

Hull and Liverpool have met 16 times in all competitions and the Tigers have never won (W0 D4 L12).

Steven Gerrard has scored three goals in three Premier League appearances against Hull.

Luis Suarez has scored 10 goals in his last eight Premier League appearances for the Reds.

75% (18/24) of the goals Liverpool have scored have been netted in the first half of games this season, the highest proportion in the English top flight.

Chelsea v Southampton (1610)

I don't know what to make of Chelsea after the past week. Last Saturday they utterly dominated an admittedly poor West Ham side and claimed a thoroughly professional 3-0 win. Perhaps they thought they'd cracked it but Tuesday's miserable defeat in Basel proved that wasn't the case. As good as Chelsea had been at West Ham, they were as bad against Basel, not managing a noteworthy effort on goal. And with all due respect to the Swiss side, they are not one of Europe's powerhouses as I'm sure we'll find out if they manage to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League. The trip to Switzerland also brought a casualty with Samuel Eto'o, who seemingly has become Jose Mourinho's first choice striker in recent times, limping off. With that all said, Southampton will certainly have their backers at 6/1 or 17/10 in the double-chance market. The Saints have made their best-ever start to a top-flight season with a win at Anfield and draw at Old Trafford helping to achieve that. However, do I really see them ending that remarkable Mourinho unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge? If Chelsea play as they did in midweek, it will happen. The likelihood is though that the Special One will get a reaction and the Blues will bounce back. Side with Saints if you like but this is one I won't be getting involved with given the recent Jekyll and Hyde nature of the hosts.

Verdict: Chelsea 2 Southampton 1 (AS)

Opta stats:

Frank Lampard has scored four goals in his last five Premier League appearances against Southampton.

Rickie Lambert scored in both league matches against Chelsea last season.

Southampton have scored just five goals in their last nine Premier League away games, and not more than once in a single match in that run. They have conceded just seven in those games.

Chelsea have scored eight goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, more than any other team in the top flight this season.

Manchester City v Swansea (1610)In many respects it's hard not to fear for Swansea here. Manchester City have won their last two home Premier League games by an aggregate of 13-0 and if you throw in Champions League fixtures they've managed 22 goals in their last four at the Etihad, with their lowest return Wednesday's four against Plzen. Are there any positives for Swansea? Well, they have won three times away from home in the league and when compared to just one home win that suggests they travel well. And if you think back to last year, they were a tad unfortunate to lose this fixture 1-0 before holding City to a 0-0 draw in the reverse. I suppose clutching at straws covers it, and with Wilfried Bony having limped off in their defeat to Valencia on Thursday, Swansea have injury concerns up front, too. Prior to that blow I had thought Swansea capable of troubling the City defence, one still likely to be without Vincent Kompany, but in the potential absence of Bony and Michu it's hard to see where Swansea hurt City, who should win well. The bet must be City to score four or more goals, priced up at 3/1 with Sky Bet and Coral. City's home goals totals this season read 4-2-4-5-1-3-7-5-6-4 - that's a 70% strike-rate in this market versus an implied 25% probability. Two of their three failures came against Bayern Munich and Everton, whereas against teams of Swansea's level they've done it every time bar when beating Hull 2-0. Perhaps the price lends too much weight to the fact City managed this only twice in the league last season because, as is clear, right now there's every chance Sergio Aguero and co can run up a cricket score. Another point worth noting is you can only get 6/4 about over 3.5 goals - the gap between these two prices suggests Swansea are expected to weigh in but I'm not so sure.

Verdict: Manchester City 5 Swansea 0 (BC)

Opta stats:

Man City have won 14 and lost just one of their last 16 Premier League games at home (D1 L1).

Swansea City have not won back-to-back Premier League matches since December 1 2012.

Sergio Aguero has scored nine goals in his last seven Premier League appearances.

Man City have conceded fewer goals in the first half of matches than any other team in the top flight this season (3).

  • The matches at Hull and Chelsea are being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports, with the game at Tottenham on BT Sport.


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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

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