26th October 2012
Big win will be the order for the day for Manchester City following the embarrassing defeat to Ajax that virtually put an end to Citizens’ hopes of reaching Champions League knockout stages. Swansea, on the other hand, arrive at Etihad on the back of the narrow win over Wigan Athletic, with Michael Laudrup’s side hoping to extend their unbeaten run to three games.
Manchester City may be the reigning Premier League winners and unbeaten in the league in last 14 games, but they cannot seem to prove their worth in Europe’s elite competition. Not even the fact they are being placed in the group of death for the second year running can be considered an excuse for team’s dismal showings in the Champions League. I have to admit I expected Roberto Mancini’s side to see off Ajax at Amsterdam ArenA, but his team didn’t even come close to getting something from the game despite taking the lead against the run of play. The good news is that City now return to Premier League comforts, where they are on a three-match winning run, but it is perfectly clear the Citizens need to improve if they are to beat Swansea and put extra pressure on title rivals Chelsea and United, who square off at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Roberto Mancini is set to make a number of changes to the side that lost to Ajax, with Matija Nastasic, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli all expected to start.
Many believed Swansea would become one of the main candidates for the drop after Brendan Rodgers, Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair left the club in the summer, but the Swans had no problems keeping the high standard of their performances despite the major squad changes during off season. Led by amazing Michu, the Welsh side enjoyed a bright start to the season, picking up 11 points from 8 Premier League games, so no wonder they again find themselves in the top half of the standings. The three-match losing run in September threatened to hurt team’s survival bid, but the Swans recovered well to take four points from home games against Reading and Wigan. Oddly enough, the match at Etihad Stadium will be Swansea’s only second fixture against top 4 opponents this season, with the 3-0 home defeat to Everton difficult to forget. Michael Laudrup has no fresh injury worries, but Neil Taylor and Kyle Bartley are long-term casualties.
Manchester City are usually very convincing at their Etihad, while Swansea rarely bring points from the travels, even when facing the bottom table sides. Considering that the Swans failed to score in any of their last two away games, I see a good value in backing City to win to nil.
Verdict: Manchester City to win to nil
Best Odds: 10/11
Bookmaker: Stan James