Man City have been waiting since mid-October to win back-to-back games in the league but given they’ve failed to beat the likes of Aston Villa and Norwich when looking to achieve that since then it would be wrong to underestimate West Brom here. The Baggies are enjoying a very respectable season in 11th and they’re in decent form with just one defeat in their last six games.
City have lost as many home games in their last four matches (three) as they did in the previous two seasons combined and their Jekyll and Hyde nature is such that they average the most goals per game this season and have scored at least four times in more matches than any other side but have also failed to score on eight occasions. If you do fancy them to win then it is generally a good idea to back them to do so in style as 14 of their last 17 home wins have been by more than one goal and nine have been by at least three.
However, a major negative for City here is that this game is sandwiched between their Champions League quarter-final with PSG, where they’ve given themselves a great chance of progressing following a surprise 2-2 draw in Paris. Their results directly before European matches this season are (most recent first): 0-0 at Norwich, 5-1 loss at Chelsea (FA Cup), 2-0 loss at Stoke, 4-1 loss against Liverpool, 2-1 win against Norwich, 5-1 win against Bournemouth, 4-1 loss at Spurs, 1-0 win at Palace. It’s an unimpressive list and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them suffer another dip here.
The Baggies know their limitations and will undoubtedly set out to frustrate City. Only Villa have scored fewer goals this season but at the other end just five sides have more clean sheets. It’s obviously an approach that is paying dividends even if it’s not filling stadiums. In the previous two seasons they lost seven of 12 trips to top-six finishers which suggests City are too short at 1.36 and this term they’ve already drawn at Leicester, West Ham, Liverpool and Chelsea from the top half while losing at Southampton and Man Utd and winning at Stoke.
Much might depend on Pellegrini’s willingness to risk the likes of De Bruyne and Aguero here, and you’d have to imagine that as he’ll be leaving at the end of the campaign a chance of Champions League glory is more of an incentive than finishing fourth. De Bruyne has started 18 games since joining City and they’ve scored 36 times but in the nine he’s missed in that time they’ve managed just 10 as they’ve gone W4-D1-L4 with the only win by more than a goal coming in the 4-0 over Villa. The Baggies look the value here and it might pay to take a gamble on some favourable team news and get on West Brom early.
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