FOOTBALL BETTING: Live on ESPN 20:00
Manchester City have won three in a row, scoring six without reply. Victory over Blackburn tonight will them up to fourth. Stuart Dalgleish previews
Last four in the Carling Cup, top four in the Premier League a strong possibility, and set to be four straight wins for Roberto Mancini in charge of Manchester City, it couldn’t be going any better for the blue side of Manchester at the minute.
To be fair it wasn’t going too badly under Mark Hughes, but the powers that be decided it was time for a change, and Mancini’s appointment has turned out to be a stroke of genius.
While Stoke, Wolves and Middlesbrough are hardly the most taxing of opening fixtures for a new manager, to win all three without letting in a goal is a fantastic achievement considering how many goals City were shipping before the Italian’s arrival.
Hughes might feel hard done by to have his contract terminated, and if you believe the rumours many of the players were upset about it too, but I think if the team were to have continued in the same vein then they could’ve blown the chance of having their most successful season in over 30 years.
The Citizens were conceding goals left, right and centre and Hughes didn’t seem to know what to do to change it, by the looks of it Mancini has got to the bottom of the problem and has overseen three successive clean sheets, after three straight games in which City conceded three goals under the previous regime.
It has to be said that Mancini hasn’t inherited a bad squad, just a squad that needed freshening up, given some new ideas and new principles.
Craig Bellamy (9/2 to grab the first goal) and Martin Petrov (13/2) are thankful for the new approach as they weren’t always used to their full potential under Hughes, who seemed to pamper to the enigmatic Robinho (5/1), despite the Brazilian more often than not failing to produce the goods away from home.
As well as Bellamy and Petrov on song, he’s also got Carlos Tevez (7/2 to bag the opener) at the top of his game – the little Argentine has got seven goals in his last six Premier League matches and is showing the Red half of Manchester just what they’re missing.
All these top notch options upfront make it hard to ignore the 2/5 available on City, but I’d be looking at the handicap market as I just can’t see Rovers getting into this game at all – Man City minus a goal looks an absolute steal at 6/5. Back to the match betting and the draw is priced up at 7/2, while Blackburn – with just one win from their 10 PL matches this season – are 13/2 to make it a 2nd away win at the home of their Lancashire rivals.
As already mentioned, Tevez is the main man for City with 12 goals from his 23 appearances this season and it’s difficult to look past him for the opener (7/2) but Benjani made a rare start in the FA Cup match against Boro and could be worth a punt should he retain his place at odds of 9/2.
Blackburn, by Big Sam’s own admission, are extremely inconsistent upfront with their forwards desperately short of goals and as such find themselves once again in a relegation battle. Their front two will be hard to predict so I’m going to go for Morten Gamst Pedersen as one to have an each-way punt on, the Norwegian is 14/1 to add to his three career goals against Man City with the opener, 11/2 to notch at any point of the game.