Manchester City v Norwich City: It's time for Guardiola's men to get on the scoresheet

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola offered plenty of excuses following last weekend's 1-0 loss to Tottenham
  • Manchester City vs Norwich City
  • Sat 21 Aug, 15:00

Manchester City have failed to score in their opening two matches, but Alan Dudman feels Norwich are in for a hammering this Saturday at the Etihad...

"His debut down the left against Spurs offered glimmers of goals and assists fleetingly for the future linking up with Raheem Sterling, and when attacking down the flanks, City almost have a front five."

Back Jack Grealish Anytime Assist @ EVS

Are slow starts becoming a problem for Pep?

A curious week for City following a poor start to the defence of their title crown at the hands of an excellent Tottenham, but at least the fans were given a mighty uplift with the release of the "stunning" third kit. I jest of course, as the faithful voted it the worst strip of all time. Bold and progressive was the sales spiel. Pep Guardiola could wear a bin bag and look stylish, but he might struggle to pull of that one.

On to trade on the pitch and not for the first time, Pep was outfoxed by his opposite number Nuno Espirito Santo - who is becoming the Spaniard's very own "Ides Of March".

Santo's simple counter-attack undone the Citizens completely.

Spurs congested the midfield and didn't press as Guardiola had mitigated, thus a congested centre from the Londoners left Fernandinho swamped and City were, not for the first time, accused of being too passive. Spurs had three shots on target - a stat that was only beaten against the Manchester club on one occasion last term.

Guardiola's assessment pointed to the fact a lot of his players arrived too late from the Euros, Covid and many other things. Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne's injuries didn't help.

However, several questions were raised from the weekend. Can Ferran Torres play as a false 9? How can Sergio Aguero be replaced? And with six members of the squad over 30, are they too old? The Title market reacted ever so slightly with their price pushed out from 1.910/11 to 2.3411/8.

That's a fairly seismic shift on just one performance (two if you count Leicester), but they started in ponderous fashion last term - winning just three of their first eight games. It's not quite a T20 cricket overreaction but I would be staggered if at one point in the season they weren't as short as 1.75/7. If they end up signing Harry Kane, they could be 1.51/2 chances - so there is ample room to trade on that price.

Saturday's Match Odds with City at 1.132/15 represents the shortest price I have seen since backing Alan Whicker to take a holiday in the 1980s so we can readily skip over entertaining backing - although the layers have got a lay to nothing, and Norwich enjoyed one of their greatest moments winning 3-2 at Carrow Road in their relegated season. The price of that happening again on the Sportsbook is 125/1. City of course hammered the Canaries on their own patch 5-0 and barely gave Daniel Farke's side a kick - the 5-0 repeat is 12/1.

I would rather play on the Betbuilder using the Man City at HT (4/11), Over 2.5 Goals (4/11) and Both Teams To Score No (8/13) as I am struggling to see the visitors scoring in this - the treble pays out 2.77.

Farke won't fret about league position

Norwich embarked on a backbreaking first fixture against Liverpool at the weekend, losing 0-3 missing several key players. Farke endured a torrid summer, not only losing one of his marquee players in Emi Buendia, but several first-teamers not gaining the minutes in pre-season that he would have liked. Grant Hanley didn't have one at all, while Teemu Pukki and Milot Rashica missed several days training.

Farke has an excellent relationship and standing with the Norfolk club and his four-year contract signed in the summer came against the backdrop of reports linking him with jobs in England in Germany. He has spoken about the target of 17th place, and that is very optimistic. They are favourites at 4.10 to finish in Rock Bottom and 1.865/6 for Relegation.

Manchester City

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Norwich City

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Saturday 21 August, 15:00

Full stats

Buendia was a star man in their Championship triumph last season as the "go-to" ball player to build from the back. City won't have him or the luxury of dominating possession as they did in the tier below and their 4-2-3-1 based on the press and 4-4-2 out of attack as a template won't be as straightforward against the powerhouse clubs. At one stage, Norwich to back in the win market were 30.029/1, but changed to 28.027/1 in the space of two hours on Thursday evening. There are optimists out there.

The visitors should see a fitter Pukki - who scored 42% of their goals in the top flight in 2019/20, 26 in the Championship last term and netted in the 3-2 success. He has lacked game time and Farke will also assess the fitness of Przemyslaw Placheta. Pukki can be found in the To Score market.

Grealish the assist King

One piece of outstanding value lies on the Sportsbook with the Anytime Assist price of Jack Grealish at EVS. His debut down the left against Spurs offered glimmers of goals and assists fleetingly for the future linking up with Raheem Sterling, and when attacking down the flanks, City almost have a front five. The £100m man's delivery for England in the Euros marked him down as an assist king, and with Aston Villa had 16 over two seasons.

The right will be galvanised with the expected return of the fleet-footed Kyle Walker. The England defender gives City a lot more than Joao Cancelo - who coped well defensively, but Walker's sorties down the right at pace gives them more balance to free up Riyad Mahrez. They registered an xG of 2.41 against Spurs and that really should get higher for Saturday.

Backing Over 2.5 Goals at 1.364/11 offers little in the way of exploring other avenues, but the 3.5 price could be an absolute steal at 1.9620/21 if City find their scoring boots as they did in this fixture two seasons ago, and that's probably a little on the chunkier side given their two 1-0 losses.

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Alan Dudman's P and L

2021/22: -1.0
2020/21: -6.22

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