City to sweep Saints aside
Finding value in backing Manchester City this season is unlikely to be easy. It is impossible to imagine what the repercussions might have been had Sergio Aguero not timed his incision so precisely against QPR on the final day. But those imaginations are irrelevant: that was a watershed moment for the club and it will be a brave punter who takes them on this term.
The bookies aren’t expecting wet-behind-the-ears Southampton to put up much of a fight at the Etihad on Sunday, and neither are we. But where is the interest in plumping for quotes of 1/5 about a home success? Or even the 8/5 about a City victory by three or more goals. The prohibitive 8/11 on an Aguero/City score/win double doesn’t appeal either.
So we’ll turn to the correct score market and take odds of 11/1 on a 4-0 home triumph. Minor schisms between manager Roberto Mancini and transfer broker Brian Marwood may have emerged during the off-season but we have no doubt that even in spite of the club’s slow progress in the market, those disagreements will have no lasting impact – storm-in-an-espresso-cup fare. And indeed it is no bad thing to have the bulk of the side which drank in that remarkable final day to call upon against the Saints.
Much of the talk after that May success was of consistent dominance but the short-term swell of emotion should be enough to sustain the Citizens in the early part of the campaign, when mind games are still locked safely in a cupboard to which only the mass media hold a key.
And it is difficult to see Saints, for all Nigel Adkins’ positive mantras, provding much resistance. The former Scunthorpe boss is relying on inexperienced heads to lead a survival charge. His side are desperately short of Premier League know-how and he did little to address that situation during the summer, bringing in Burnley’s Jay Rodriguez and Crystal Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne.
They are banking on using a measured, often stylish, brand of football to good effect as Swansea and Norwich did last term. But both those sides were unceremoniously dispatched at Eastlands in 2011/12, with the Swans going down 4-0 on the opening day and the Canaries losing 5-1 in December.
Mancini’s men also struck six at Old Trafford, five at Tottenham, four at Blackburn and four on home turf against Aston Villa in the early part of last season and we fancy them to begin on the front foot again as they bid to defend their crown.
For more on the Premier League, read Mike Holden's outright season preview.
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