Manchester City will expect to have a fairly difficult time of it when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Etihad on Monday (3pm ET).
Man City come into the match on the back of obliterating lower-league opposition in both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup, firing in 16 goals without reply in wins over Rotherham and Burton Albion respectively, but will not expect to find goals as easy to come by on Monday.
Wolves held City to a 1-1 draw when the sides met at Molineux back in August, taking the lead through Willy Boly, only for Aymeric Laporte to equalize. They have shown themselves to be similarly awkward opponents for other top-six sides this season, securing wins against Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur and draws with Arsenal and Manchester United.
Nuno’s side have a solid defensive structure and move forward swiftly and incisively once possession is won. They have had a few problems coming up against teams they are expected to dominate, losing to four of the bottom eight squads. Their approach has, however, proved very successful against the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
It is also the sort of approach that has the potential to cause Man City some problems. They are clearly a very strong side in almost all aspects, with the best scoring record, third-best defensive record and joint-best goal difference in the league. However teams who are both well organized in defence and who have the necessary quality to move the ball forward accurately at pace have been able to make good contests of matches against them.
It bears noting that Man City have lost three of their last six in the English Premier League. It was only a 2-1 win over leaders Liverpool in their last league fixture, with Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane getting the all-important goals in a gripping and high-quality encounter. That victory reopened a Premier League title race that had seemed to be strongly swinging in Liverpool’s favor.
The gap now stands at four points ahead of a stretch of fixtures in which the Sky Blues know they cannot afford to give back any ground to the league leaders. They have Wolves, Arsenal and Chelsea in their next three home matches, whereas Liverpool face Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Bournemouth in theirs. Anything less than nine points will likely see Man City fall further behind, although they were themselves defeated by both Palace and Leicester.
Wolves are themselves involved in an interesting battle for position as part of the pack of seven teams between seventh and 13th. Wanderers seek to top that mini-group and secure the seventh-place finish that could very well yield a place in Europe next season. They are towards the top, just two points off Leicester in seventh.
It has been an impressive return to the top flight after a six-year absence in which the club actually slipped down as far as League One. Heavy investment, with a strong Portuguese influence that includes coach Nuno, saw them promoted as winners of last season’s Championship and it looks like they are here to stay.
Wolves are already on course for their best top-flight finish since they came home sixth in 1980. Further reinforcements may yet arrive this month, with additional attacking options seemingly a priority. Players such as Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro, particularly the latter, are yet to make quite the same impact they did in the Championship.
Our Betting Preview’s Man City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers Picks & Predictions Verdict
The Citizens are clear favorites with the USA sportsbooks to emerge victorious from Monday’s match, but the record Wolves have put together against the Premier League elite this season indicates that Nuno’s side will certainly make a good game of it.
The Wanderers are yet to lose by more than two goals this season and have only conceded more than once in two of their 10 road matches to date. Only three teams have a better defensive record on their travels. Giving Wolves a two-goal head-start on an Asian Handicap therefore looks a very solid play.
- Bet on Wolverhampton Wanderers +2 goals on the spread @ -108 with Bookmaker.