Manchester City open their 2020/21 Premier League campaign with a tricky trip to Wolves on Monday night. Mark O'Haire analyses the encounter.
"Four of Wolves’ six meetings with top-six finishers last term broke the Over 2.5 Goals barrier, with the same figure securing BTTS profit"
Wolves v Manchester City
Monday September 21, 20:15
Wolves ease to opening victory
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo says he believes "something special" is being built at the club after he celebrated a new contract with a 2-0 win at Sheffield United in the Old Gold's curtain-raiser last Monday night. Raul Jimenez struck in the third minute to give Wolves a dream start before Romain Saiss headed in a second just three minutes later.
Wanderers earned plenty of plaudits when securing seventh last term, as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League. The late finish to a season meant Wolves had not had time to squeeze in any friendlies before the start of the new campaign; but despite the lack of preparation they showed no signs of rustiness and they were at their clinical best.
Players tired after the interval, although Nuno's troops were reasonably comfortable winners, allowing the manager to fantasize about the future, saying: "It has been an amazing three seasons. I think we create something really special - the identity, the core of the squad, the bonds between us, this is how we operate but we have to stay humble."
City take their 2020/21 bow
Manchester City finished 18 points behind Premier League champions Liverpool last season and Pep Guardiola's group are determined to win back their crown in 2020/21. The Citizens have spent big-money on the signings of Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres to bolster the squad but start the new campaign with star striker Sergio Aguero unavailable for selection.
Meanwhile, despite Ake's arrival, a local paper survey showed 60% of City supporters remain worried about the side's defence, suggesting the centre-half's addition hasn't yet allayed defensive fears. This will be the Citizens' first outing since their Champions League exit against Lyon where once again Guardiola's troops performed poorly at the back.
Bernardo Silva's involvement is also in doubt following an injury picked up on international duty and Aymeric Laporte is doubtful but Riyad Mahrez is expected to be involved after recovering from positive COVID-19 tests. Kevin De Bruyne, fresh from collecting the Professional Footballers' Association men's Players' Player of the Year award, will marshal the midfield.
Old Gold underrated?
Wolves and Manchester City have enjoyed some memorable meetings in recent years with the Old Gold enjoying supremacy. Since the hosts' promotion to the top-flight, Nuno Espirito Santo's side have avoided defeat in three of their four Premier League showdowns against the Citizens (W2-D1-L1), including doing the double over City last season.
Wolves 7.206/1 were closer to 6.50 when toppling City at Molineux back in December, and even accounting for a slight loss of home field advantage, the Old Gold appear a touch underrated on Monday night. The hosts will be happy to sit back and see, utilise their counter-attacking threats with their visitors expected to monopolise possession.
Manchester City's 1.528/15 title challenge fell down against the Premier League's elite last term. Pep Guardiola's outfit pocketed just W4-D1-L7 against top-seven finishers, a return that included five defeats from six away from the Etihad. City kept only two shutouts in that 12-game sample, shipping two goals or more on eight occasions, highlighting their downfall.
Both sides can oblige
All four meetings between Wolves and Manchester City under their current coaches have produced at least two goals with Over 2.5 Goals 1.695/7 paying out in half of those fixtures, and Both Teams To Score following suit. The latter selection has banked in both of the duos head-to-heads here at Molineux since the Old Gold returned to the Premier League.
Four of Wolves' six meetings with top-six finishers last term broke the Over 2.5 Goals barrier, with the same figure securing BTTS profit. With Man City firing only four blanks across the 2019/20 league campaign, supporting Both Teams To Score certainly appeals at kind 1.845/6 quotes on Monday night in what should prove to be a very watchable affair.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 3.00 pts
Returned: 1.95 pts
P/L: -1.05 pts
Back Both Teams To Score at 1.84 in Wolves v Manchester City