Will Manchester City hang on to secure a top four finish in the Premier League?

Manchester City are enduring a rough patch of Premier League form with just one win from their last six domestic outings and with some key games coming up, are they at risk of finishing outside of the top four? Lewis Addley explores…

The Premier League title race looks all but out of Manchester City‘s reach now as they trail leaders Leicester City by a huge 15 points. Recent form has seen City pick up just four points in their last six games and they are struggling to hold onto fourth place, let alone challenge at the summit.

After another poor performance at the weekend in their 1-0 loss against rivals Manchester United the gap has narrowed even more. They are now in the uncomfortable position of having to look over their shoulders at the chasing pack of Champions League hunters – fuelling talk among fans and pundits alike that they could slip out of the top four.

Current Premier League top six standings

Current Premier League standings – top six 

As we can see City are just two points ahead of West Ham United and Manchester United as we enter the international break. Over the previous six games City have dropped from second place to fourth and the gap has closed between them and fifth place by six points.

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When looking at Manchester City’s remaining league fixtures, a fair argument could be made that they have to deal with one of the trickiest run-ins out of any club.

Manchester City's remaining fixtures and previous league results

Manchester City’s remaining Premier League fixtures and corresponding results

By using the theory of mirroring their previous results this season against the sides they face in the run-in, Manchester City would finish this season on 69 points, picking up six more wins and adding 18 points to their current tally of 51.

While we aren’t suggesting those results will mirror exactly, it does give some good grounding to provide a potential final league points tally for City.

Wedged within these fixtures are City’s two season-defining ties against Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, so the pressure will be on Manuel Pellegrini to ensure his squad priority is right when resting players for those games.

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So lets have a look at how this potential tally of 69 points compares to the number of points required to finish in the top four over the last five Premier League campaigns.

Points required to finish in the top four in the last five seasons

Points required to finish in the top four – last five seasons

As we can see, over the last three seasons 69 points would not have been enough to finish in the top four, but it would have secured Champions League football in the 2010/11 and 2011/2012 seasons.

City fans will be concerned about their league position as they will not want to be without Champions League football next season, especially with the imminent arrival of new boss Pep Guardiola. Playing in Europe’s top competition can certainly influence potential transfers and with a squad overhaul expected to take place, Guardiola will want to be able to lure some of the world’s top talents to the Etihad Stadium.

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It’s now time for the current City squad to step up and prove any doubters wrong by winning as many of their remaining fixtures as possible to ensure they finish in the top four. They do also have the potential pathway into the Champions League by winning the competition this term as they head towards that huge quarterfinal tie against PSG.

City have finished in the top three of the Premier League in each of the past five seasons and lifted the title at the end of the 2011/12 and 2013/14 campaigns.

Do you think Manchester City will finish in the top four this season?

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester City vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Manchester City vs. Manchester United

Venue: Etihad Stadium – Sunday, March 20 – 16:00 GMT (12:00 ET)

Match Odds: Manchester City 4/5 – Draw 5/2 – Manchester United 7/2

Match Preview

The biggest Premier League game of the weekend sees Manchester City take on Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in a tie which could have huge bearings on the race for Champions League football.

Manchester City’s title challenge has gone off the boil and they now look like a side who could even struggle to make the top four, let alone compete at the summit.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have fallen off the pace in recent weeks and are now sitting in fourth place, only two points ahead of West Ham United in 5th. This is a massive game for the Citizens, as a loss to their bitter rivals would leave the sides separated by just one point.

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City come into the game off the back of their 0-0 draw in the Champions League midweek, which was enough to see them advance to the quarter finals of the competition for the first time in their history.

Their last tie outing in the league was the disappointing draw against strugglers Norwich City, a game Pellegrini would have been expecting his side to take all three points in, but an average performance cost them.

Manchester United are still chasing the top four. They currently sit sixth in the table and inconsistent form has been a contributing factor as to why they are in the position of chasing a top four finish, rather than competing for the title.

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Louis Van Gaal’s side were knocked out of the Europa League midweek by Liverpool and will look to bounce back here. A top four finish is not beyond them and given the nature of this unpredictable Premier League season no club can be written off.

The worry for United will be that they have only won one of their last eight away games in the top flight. City have the second-best home record in the division and leaving with three points would be a huge achievement for Van Gaal as his players.

The reverse fixture ended 0-0 at Old Trafford and so hopefully there are more goals on display this time around.

Team News

Manchester City still have some key faces missing from their squad. Kevin De Bruyne, Fabian Delph, Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri are all expected to miss out while Nicolas Otamendi is a doubt.

Manchester United’s squad is also riddled with injuries. Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Wayen Rooney and Will Keane are all out, while Ander Herrera is a doubt.

Key Points

Manchester City’s last five: L/L/L/W/D

Manchester United’s last five: D/L/W/W/L

Key Stat: Manchester City have won six of the last ten meeting between these two sides in all competitions.

Key Player: Sergio Aguero – City’s talisman will need to drive them to win all of their remaining league games if they are to have any chance of winning the title now. He has 16 goals this season and will hope to add to that tally against City’s great rivals.

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Score Prediction

Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United – City to have too much for United and overpower them in the Manchester Derby this weekend. Both of these sides are out of form so it will be a close tie which will perhaps lack the quality we have become so accustom to for a game of this magnitude.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs. Manchester City

Venue: Anfield – Wednesday, March 2 – 20:00 GMT (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 7/5 – Draw 12/5 – Man City 15/8

Match Preview

Liverpool and Manchester City meet up for the second time in four days on Wednesday night in a key Premier League clash after Sunday’s League Cup Final showdown at Wembley. 

Manchester City won Sunday’s final on penalties after a hard fought battle between the sides and both need to focus once again on league commitments, with eleven games to go.

Liverpool thumped Aston Villa 6-0 in their last league outing and Jurgen Klopp will be expecting his side to bounce back from Sunday’s penalty heartache in front of their own fans here.

The Reds have the chance to close the gap on City to six points despite the fact they are five places behind them in the table. They thumped their opponents 4-1 in the reverse fixture and will be looking for an impressive double here.

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Manchester City need to pick up their domestic form and send out a message to the chasing pack and the teams above them here.

City may have lifted the League Cup on Sunday, but they have lost their last two Premier League games on the bounce and are at risk of falling out of the title race altogether with another defeat.

If they do not start to win games consistently they may even fall out of the top four with sides behind them continually gaining ground.

Manuel Pellegrini will be expecting his side to build upon Sunday’s cup win and avoid defeat at all costs here. They have a difficult run of fixtures in the run in to the season and cannot afford to put any unnecessary pressure on themselves.

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The 120 minutes played on Sunday might leave both sides drained but this is sure to be another intriguing battle between two attacking sides.

Team News

The Liverpool squad is being stretched with the number of injuries they have at the moment. Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, Martin Skrtel, Jordan Rossiter, Mamadou Sakho and Kevin Stewart are all out. Steven Caulker and Daniel Sturridge are both doubtful. Kolo Toure is expected to start at centre-back alongside Lucas after the pair coped relatively well with Sergio Aguero on Sunday.

Manchester City have been welcoming back some of their long term injured players of late, although Samir Nasri, Kevin De Bruyne and Fabian Delph are all out. It will be interesting to see if penalty shootout hero Willy Caballero retains his place in goal or if Joe Hart returns between the sticks.

Key Points

Liverpool’s last five: L/W/L/D/W

Manchester City’s last five: W/D/W/L/L

Key Stat: Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 14 home games against Manchester City in all competitions. 

Key Player: Raheem Sterling – The former Liverpool man will continue to want to prove why he chose to move to City. He will be looking to make it two wins in four days against the Reds in what is sure to be a hostile return to Anfield for the young England winger.

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Score Prediction

Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City – Both these sides may well be tired after such a drawn out League Cup Final on Sunday. City have been out of form in the league of late and may struggle again to break down a resilient Liverpool defence, despite the number of injuries the Reds are struggling with. There should be goals in this but it’s hard to split them on paper coming into the clash.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Manchester City

Competition: FA Cup: Fifth Round – Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Sunday, February 21 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Chelsea 17/20 – Draw 13/5 – Manchester City 3/1

Match Preview

Chelsea welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon in the standout fixture in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

The Blues suffered a midweek setback in the Champions League, losing 2-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in what was their first loss since Guus Hiddink stepped in as interim boss.

Chelsea have been building steadily but this is going to be a tough task for Hiddink’s side. They do have a good chance of progressing, given the fact Manchester City will have one eye on their upcoming Champions League tie and are struggling with injuries.

The current Premier League champions will want to avoid a draw at all costs as they have struggled away to City and so progressing on Sunday will be essential if they are to reach the quarterfinals.

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Manchester City, as mentioned, will have an eye on their upcoming fixtures. They are still in the title race despite consecutive league losses and will also expect to progress deep into the Champions League.

They come into this one off the back of a 2-1 home loss against Spurs, one which would have been hard to stomach given that it has further dented their title ambitions.

Manuel Pellegrini will be taking this tie seriously but has already hinted that he will be resting some of his superstars.

Chelsea and Manchester City have played out some entertaining games in recent times and this could be an FA Cup classic, with both sides showing defensive frailties.

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Match Facts

Chelsea’s last five in all competitions: W/D/D/W/L

Manchester City’s last five in all competitions: W/W/W/L/L

Key Stat: Chelsea have lost their last four FA Cup clashes with Manchester City and have only once beaten them in the competition. That sole win came 101 years ago, almost to the day (February 20, 1915).

Key Player: Oscar – The Brazilian playmaker has been in good form of late and will hope to heap more misery on a Manchester City side in poor form with his attacking play here.

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Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City – This is going to be a tight tie. Chelsea have been far more consistent since Hiddink’s arrival and despite their midweek loss against Paris they attacked well in stages. The FA Cup is Chelsea’s best chance of silverware this season, though it will be a tough task for them to go all the way. Manchester City’s confidence has been rocked after losing to their title rivals two weeks on the bounce at home – this is a good chance for them to pick back up and restore some confidence ahead of their upcoming fixtures. If Pellegrini does rest some of his key faces it will be a chance for the fringe players to show what they’re made of and attempt to heap more misery on Chelsea.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester City vs Leicester City

Competition: Premier League – Manchester City vs. Leicester City

Venue: Etihad Stadium – Saturday, February 6 – 12:45 GMT (07:45 ET) 

Match Odds: Man City 4/7 – Draw 16/5 – Leicester City 9/2

Match Preview

Manchester City welcome Premier League leaders Leicester City to the Etihad Stadium in the first game of the weekend.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have been in a great run of form and are unbeaten in their last seven in the league. This is a huge tie which they desperately need to take all three points from to ensure they are in the strongest position possible to regain the title.

Manchester City have not lost in their last nine outings against Leicester in all competitions and haven’t conceded a goal in the last three meetings between the sides.

The Manchester giants come into this one off the back of their hard earned 1-0 away win over Sunderland, a great example of their resilience and proof they are more than capable of grinding out results.

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Leicester City are continuing to fly high and are three points clear of Manchester City at the top of the league coming into this one.

They won convincingly last time out against Liverpool with Jamie Vardy scoring that unforgettable screamer and have scored five goals in their last two games.

Claudio Ranieri’s side are unbeaten in 14 of their last 15 away Premier League games and are more than capable of making this a really tough tie for Manchester City.

If Leicester can avoid defeat here they will give themselves a great chance of winning the league but some are still questioning their chances. Leicester on paper have a favourable run in to the end of the season after their next two games and we will really get a feel for how things will end up over the coming weeks.

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Team News

Manchester City’s injury list is a concern for Pellegrini but shows the importance of squad depth. Six first team players look set to miss out as Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony, Kevin DeBruyne, Fabian Delph, Jesus Navas and captain Vincent Kompany are all sidelined.

Leicester City have just the three players who look unlikely to feature here, Daniel Amartey is a doubt while Matthew James and Jeffrey Schlupp are both out.

Key Points

Manchester City’s last five: W/D/W/D/W

Leicester City’s last five: D/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: Solid – Leicester have kept five clean sheets in their last six Premier League games.

Key Player: Sergio Aguero – The Argentine goal-machine has bagged six in his last five Premier League outings and now has 13 for the season. If he continues to find the net at this ratio he could well be the difference for City bringing the title back to the Etihad.

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Score Prediction

Manchester City 2-1 Leicester City – Pellegrini’s side to edge this one in a tie which could have a serious impact in the race for the title. It should be a thriller and one not to miss.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: West Ham United vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – West Ham United vs. Manchester City

Venue: Upton Park – Saturday, January 23 – 17:30 GMT (12:30 ET) 

Match Odds: West Ham 4/1 – Draw 3/1 – Manchester City 8/13

Match Preview

West Ham United welcome title chasing Manchester City to Upton Park on Saturday evening in a weekend packed with entertaining Premier League fixtures.

The home side are on a great fun of form at Upton Park heading into this fixture, unbeaten in their last eight in the league.

They do however come into the game off the back of their 2-1 away defeat to Newcastle last weekend, which ended a three-game winning streak.

West Ham know they have a tricky evening ahead of them here, but they do possess the quality to cause the best sides trouble as they have proven already this season.

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Manchester City will fancy their chances of taking all three points in this tie but know they are going to have to be at their best to do so.

City have already lost to West Ham 2-1 in the first meeting between these sides earlier in the season at The Either and their away form has been questionable all season.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side come into this one off the back of their 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace last weekend and will want to pick up where they left off last time out.

City need to be taking all three points in a tie like this to ensure they can challenge for the title. They are in a very strong position in third, one point off the top, and know they are more than capable of winning the title this season.

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Team News

West Ham have four injury concerns. Three are set to miss out; Andy Carroll, Manuel Lansing and Diafra Sakho, while James Tomkins is a doubt.

Manchester City’s injury toll is up to five players. Vincent Kompany remains out, and his presence has been hugely missed at the heart of the City defence on a number of occasions this season. Samir Nasri, Eliaquim Mangala, Aleksandar Kolarov and Wilfried Bony are all out too.

Key Points

West Ham’s last five: W/W/L/D/L

Manchester City’s last five: W/W/L/L/W

Key Stat: West Ham are unbeaten in their last eight home matches in the Premier League. This is going to be a huge tie for both sides.

Key Player: Sergio Aguero – The Argentine goal machine is always lethal in front of goal. He has netted ten in 15 in an injury-hit season and will be looking to get at the West Ham defence. If he can stay fit until the end of the season City have a great chance of regaining the title.

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Score Prediction

West Ham 1-3 Manchester City – City to put a stop to West Ham’s unbeaten home run, proving too clinical. We can expect the away side to counter well and put chances away when they get them. Three points for Pellegrini’s side.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Norwich City vs Manchester City

Competition: FA Cup – Norwich City vs. Manchester City 

Venue: Carrow Road – Saturday, January 9 – 15:00 GMT (10:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Norwich 19/5 – Draw 29/10 – Manchester City 4/6

Match Preview

Norwich host Manchester City at Carrow Road in the third round of the FA Cup this weekend, a tie contested by two Premier League sides.

Norwich come into this one off the back of two wins on the bounce. They have been in a good run of form, having won three of their last five.

The sides have already met this season in the league, with Manchester City coming out 2-1 winners.

Norwich haven’t won in this fixture in their last three at home, (D1, L2). The sides shared a seven goal thriller back in 2012 at Carrow Road.

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Manchester City come into this tie off the back of their 2-1 defeat away at Everton in midweek.

City have only won two in their last five games, not form you would associate with the title chasing side.

Manuel Pellegrini will expect nothing less than a win here and progression to the fourth round. City could potentially do a cup double this season and will be ready for the challenge.

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Key Points

Norwich City’s last five in all competitions: D/W/L/W/W

Manchester City’s last five in all competitions: L/W/D/W/L

Key Stat: Manchester City are unbeaten in ten of their last 11 games against Norwich in all competitions.

Key Player: Kevin De Bruyne – City’s big money signing has been a key player since his arrival. He could well be rested but if he is involved we expect him to be highly influential.

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Score Prediction

Norwich City 1-3 Manchester City – City to prove too strong for Norwich in what has the makings of a typical action packed FA Cup tie.

STATS: Was Jose Mourinho wrong to let these seven players leave Chelsea?

Chelsea‘s form has been a huge topic of conversation after each game so far this season for one reason or another, mostly down to below-par performances.

Key players are failing to provide quality in the same way they did last season, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa the subjects of heavy criticism.

Jose Mourinho has let some big names leave the club since his return in 2013, some of whom are enjoying great form in their domestic seasons with other clubs.

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With Chelsea under such pressure at current, it’s difficult not to ask whether some of those names should have been let go, so we took a look at some of those players’ statistics this season.

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 Former Chelsea players’ domestic league stats for the 2015/16 season (via Squawka)

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Petr Cech’s domestic league stats for 2015/16 as a goalkeeper (via Squawka)

Petr Cech comes out on top in terms of win percentage with an impressive 66.6% in the Premier League with Arsenal, which is 41.6% better than Chelsea’s overall win percentage of 25% in the top flight.

Romelu Lukaku, now at Everton, has bagged seven league goals so far this season. Chelsea’s highest individual goalscorer only has two (Diego Costa, Ramires and Willian).

The highest number of assists from those who have departed have come from Lukaku and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne on four. Cesc Fabregas, arguably Chelsea’s most creative player, has just one league assist after 12 games.

And perhaps most staggering is the fact that the highest number of losses suffered domestically out of the seven players is only three, four less than Chelsea’s worrying total of seven so far.

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While we are not suggesting Mourinho’s transfer policy is wrong, it is clear that his squad is lacking in creativity and goals this season. What we must not forget is that out of these seven players only Petr Cech and Andre Schurrle (departed January 2015) were in the Chelsea squad who won the Premier League last season.

But Chelsea fans would be forgiven for looking at the names in the table above and wishing they could bring them back to Stamford Bridge to try and turn the Blues’ campaign around.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Everton vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – Everton vs. Manchester City 

Venue: Goodison Park – Sunday, August 23 – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Everton 7/2 – Draw 3/1 – Manchester City 7/10

Match Preview 

Everton host Manchester City in one of the stand out fixtures of the weekend. The Toffees will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to the 2015/16 Premier League season while City want to maintain their 100% record.

Everton come into the game off the back of their impressive 3-0 away win against Southampton, which was a bit of a shock result considering the qualities the Saints possess. Roberto Martinez will be pleased with his sides start to the season and although it is a very early stage, his players seem to have clicked into gear.

Romelu Lukaku has wasted no time finding his feet this season, with that impressive brace last weekend. He will be expecting to better last seasons tally of ten league goals and is looking sharp, he could cause the City defence all sorts of problems.

Last seasons meeting between the sides ended 1-1 at Goodison Park, this game provides a good chance for Martinez’s men to send out a message that they are ready to challenge for a top four spot.

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Manchester City have started the season in scintillating form. They have the look of a complete team and seem to have ironed out some of those defensive frailties which cost them so badly last campaign.

Manuel Pellegrini will be delighted with the demolition of title rivals Chelsea and City showed their desire to regain their Premier League crown from the Blues.

City will be well aware of Everton’s performance against Southampton but will be expecting to take all three points here. Raheem Sterling can expect a hostile welcome from the home fans given his Liverpool connection, he will be keen to show why City paid the staggering fee to acquire his services.

Sergio Aguero tormented the Chelsea defence last weekend and he will be looking to win the golden boot once again. His tally of 26 league goals was enough to win the accolade last campaign and no doubt he will be challenging all season to better that total. City are an immense force with their spine of Joe Hart, captain Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero in form, and those four players have started the season very well.

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Team News  

Everton have five injury concerns. Martinez is expected to be without fan-favourtie Leighton Baines until November as he is recovering from an ankle injury. Tony Hibbert, Aidan McGeady, Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar are all set to be sidelined for this one. Martinez is unlikely to upset the balance of his side after their 3-0 win over Southampton so he will more than likely field the same starting 11.

Manchester City are without Fernando and Pablo Zabaleta. New signing Fabian Delph could return but that will more than likely be a place on the bench if he is declared fit. This weeks £32 million signing, Nicolas Otamendi, is expected to have to wait for his full debut, as Manuel Pellegrini, similarly to Roberto Martinez, will leave his side unchanged.

Key Points 

Everton’s form: D/W

Manchester City’s form: W/W

Key Stat: Ruthless – Manchester City have won their last eight Premier League outings, they’re averaging three goals a game having scored netted 24 times in those eight matches.

Key Player: Sergio Aguero – The Argentinian is unplayable at the top of his game. He will be eager to build on his performance from last weekend.

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Score Prediction

Everton 1-2 Manchester City – City to prove too much for Everton to handle and maintain their 100% start to the season.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City 

Venue: The Hawthorns – Monday, August 10 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: West Bromwich Albion 9/2 – Draw 14/5 – Manchester City 8/13

Match Preview

The opening Monday Night Football of the season sees Manchester City travel to the Hawthorns to take on Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion.

West Brom come into the game off the back of five wins on the trot in preseason and look very organised defensively.

The Baggies will be looking to build on last season as they became a tough side to beat at home under Pulis.

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Pulis has strengthened well this summer after bringing in James McLean, James Chester and Rickie Lambert and all three will be hoping to make their debuts here.

The future of young Saido Berahino is still up in the air, and with other first team strikers like Brown Ideye in form in front of goal, don’t be surprised if Berahino is benched.

Man City have been relatively quiet in the window, apart from their high-profile capture of England international Raheem Sterling.

City have mainly focused on bringing in young English talent with the likes of Fabian Delph and Patrick Roberts joining the Citizens this summer.

Make no mistake, City will be challenging for the title once again this term and if star players like Yaya Toure return to peak form, they are serious contenders to dethrone Chelsea.

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Starting with three points will be the target this weekend but a trip to West Brom represents a tricky early test for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Team News

West Brom are still missing Ben Foster so Boaz Myhill should deputise for the England ‘keeper. Gareth MCauley is a doubt with a calf/shin injury. Rickie Lambert could make his first start for the club in attack.

Manchester City may be without David Silva, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero through illness but they are expected to shake it off to feature. Yaya Toure picked up a knock to the head playing Real Madrid so is a doubt. Fabian Delph and Gael Clichy are both out. Raheem Sterling is expected to start.

Key Points

West Brom’s preseason form: L/L/W/W/W/W/W

Manchester City’s preseason form: W/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: Manchester City have won their last seven matches against West Brom in the Premier League.

Key Player: Raheem Sterling – £49 million can get you a lot, but Sterling could be worth that fee come the end of the season. His speed across ten yards could cause the Baggies some serious problems on Monday night.

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Score Prediction

West Brom 1-1 Manchester City – We’re expecting West Brom to be hard to beat this season but Manchester City are still a superpower in the Premier League and should be beating everyone. That said, we’re expecting a score draw to ease both sides into the new season.