Stoke v Man City - Saturday 12:45, BT Sport 1

These teams aren’t too far away from where they would have expected to be but they haven’t necessarily been the easiest to predict. Despite topping the table the best strategy for City’s matches has actually been to oppose them, as their three defeats have meant backing their opponents in all 14 games would have resulted in more than a 35% profit. Stoke, in fairness, suffered a slow start that was largely due to a tough fixture list and have also faced two more matches on the road than at home.

The Britannia tends to be a tough place for most teams to go, as Chelsea found out in the last match here, and in the past two seasons Stoke have won five of 12 home games against top-six finishers while losing just four times. Their home record has been patchy this term though as they’ve lost to Liverpool, West Brom and Watford already, but three of their six home defeats last season came against the bottom seven so they appear to raise their game against the best teams.

One thing that has been consistent about Stoke’s recent matches has been the lack of goals, with eight goals in total across their last seven games. This fixture was won 4-1 by City last year but the three other meetings between the two sides since 2013/14 have all had fewer than two goals. However, seven of Stoke’s nine home games against top-half sides last term had at least three goals as they kept just one clean sheet and they have the quality to attack City, with both teams scoring in seven of those matches, so with little to lose in this match they may decide to go for it.

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Man City have not won in three away games and have scored only twice in their last four road trips as their away form has failed to match their performances at the Etihad. However, they have won 12 of 18 trips to middle-third teams since 2013/14 and when they do win they normally do it in style, with 10 of those victories coming by more than one goal margins. This highlights how when they are good they tend to be really good but otherwise they can be vulnerable and it also follows through into the goals trends. 12 of these 18 matches have had at least three goals but 10 have had four or more and eight have had at least five, so you are better off backing a high goals line than taking the standard Over 2.5 mark. Furthermore, with Kompany out of action the defence is vulnerable. Since the start of last season the skipper has failed to start 21 of 52 City games and the average goals in the matches he’s missed is 3.91, compared to 2.68 gpg when he’s been playing.

City’s inconsistent form combined with Stoke’s excellent record at home against the league’s best teams points us towards a lay of the away side. However, both teams to score at 5/6 seems a solid bet while those looking for a longer odds punt should consider Over 4.5 Goals at 5/1.

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Over 3.5 Goals - 1pt @ 21/10