Manchester City and Chelsea collide in FA Cup action at the weekend. Here’s a primer on this highly pivotal clash complete with soccer free picks for your consideration.
Chelsea flying high
Chelsea are flying high in Premier League, sat pretty atop the table with a 17-6-3 mark and 57 points. But the Blues could only manage a draw against West Bromwich Albion as Premier League went midweek on us, failing to hang on to a 1-0 lead at the Hawthorns on Tuesday night. As the clock clicked away the second half, the Baggies, under new coach Pepe Mel, began to press forward and, finally, in the 87th minute they were rewarded for their opportunistic efforts. Victor Anichebe headed in Saido Berahino’s cross to lift West Brom to a 1-1 draw and a share in the spoils.
For now, Chelsea remain at the top of the table with a two-point edge over Arsenal. But this recent stumble puts a bit of a damper on their Premier League title bid and, in turn, hands the initiative back to both Arsenal and Manchester City – both slated to get match day 26 betting underway on Wednesday against Manchester United and Sunderland respectively. It goes without saying, Arsenal could resume the seat at the head of the table with a home win over Man U while Man City would leapfrog Chelsea in the table and into second place (on account of a better goal difference) with a win over Sunderland.
As things currently stand in Futures betting markets, Man City are the favourites at +110, closely followed by Chelsea at +150. Only Arsenal are priced insincerely large at +650 soccer odds to win the Premier League title.
Following this rather costly misstep, Jose Mourinho was left trying to put a positive spin on a result that saw his side fail to pull four points ahead of the chasing pack. It also leaves question marks hanging over their heads as they head into FA Cup action this weekend and, let’s not forget, Champions League R16 action next week when they travel to Turkey to take on Roberto Mancini and his Didier Drogba inspired Galatasaray. Back-to-back pivotal clashes that Jose Mourinho would be minding when making his starting IX decisions for both.
Chelsea are after beating Man City at the Etihad, a 1-0 victory that shook EPL betting markets in week 24. It was the first defeat to befall the Sky Blues on home ground this season. In so doing once, can Chelsea hand Man City a second straight defeat at the Etihad in as many weeks?
If sportsbooks were any indication, the likelihood isn’t as high as one would presume following that gauntlet throwing result. Chelsea enter the clash at the significant disadvantage, listed at +240 to win outright.
On the other hand, bookies aren’t exactly cornering this match firmly in Man City’s camp either. Make no mistake Pellegrini’s side is favoured, but at +105 to win outright at Bet365 they cut a less than striking pose.
Fickle are sports betting markets or simply just prone to panic at the slightest sign of a wobble? It was merely a wobble at the Etihad, really. Eleven straight wins to start the season – something was bound to give, eventually. Besides, Jose Mouriho’s defensive-minded approach has a way of sucking the life out of a match.
Following their first home defeat Man City succumbed to a scoreless draw away to Norwich City. Relegation-threatened Norwich City – the unlikeliest of candidates – actually managed to hold the Sky Blues, just the odds on favourites to win the Premier League title across sportsbooks, to a scoreless draw, prompting concerned rumblings in sports betting circles and all-out panic in the media, hailing this recent spate of results a “slump.” That it precedes a pivotal week with both FA Cup action and a date with Barcelona in Champions League R16 is rather untimely.
It’s no secret that injuries have ravaged Man City recently. Sergio Aguero is still sidelined with a hamstring injury and he remains a question mark for the weekend tilt with Chelsea. Samir Nasri has been noticeably absent as well as Fernandinho, and both appear to be unlikely (at this point in time) for FA Cup. Pellegrini hopes to have them ready in time for the huge prospect of Barcelona in Champions League next week however (hope springs eternal, so they say).
Soccer Betting Verdict: The soccer betting market on this FA Cup tilt is on one hand lopsided, on the other indecisive. Chelsea have shown they can beat Man City by stifling their offense and so they could prove the savvy soccer pick at +240 to win outright.
Then again, they accomplished the feat while Man City were hobbled. Should Man City’s walking wounded earn a clean bill of health, all of a sudden, and, in turn, make an appearance at the weekend, the tables could turn dramatically, which would then mean Man City would be the value soccer pick at +105.
Then again, Champions League action is looming – a pivotal tournament for both sides in more ways than one: Roman Abramovich wants to win it every season; Man City wants to prove they belong. Could a draw be on the horizon, a soccer pick on offer at +250 at Bet365? The more we think on it, the more sensible the result is given the tough week both face.
Soccer Free Picks: Draw +250; Under 2.5 at +100