5th October 2012
The early kick-off of the game against Sunderland means that Manchester City will have less than 72 hours to recover from the difficult match against Borussia Dortmund, while their opponents will be well rested in an attempt to extend their unbeaten run to six games.
Nobody can convince me that waiting until the final day of the summer transfer window to sign the likes of Javi Garcia, Matija Nastasic, Douglas Maicon and Scott Sinclair was the right thing to do, and it appears the team are paying the price for some questionable dealings in the transfer market. While Roberto Mancini’s side notched up several good results in a row at the start of the season, their performances were far from impressive, with the poor form soon resulting in a four-match winless run. The hard-fought win over Fulham appeared to be a step in the right direction, but the boost in confidence was short lived as the Citizens were completely outclassed by Borussia Dortmund in midweek and were very fortunate not to lose the game. With their next opponents a side that have yet to lose a Premiership fixture this term, I believe a comfortable win can be virtually ruled out. Javi Garcia is unavailable after picking up a hamstring injury in midweek, while Douglas Maicon and Micah Richards remain long-term worries.
Sunderland have been on the constant uptrend since the arrival of Martin O’Neill, but the Black Cats were in need of some attacking reinforcements after Nicklas Bendtner ended his loan spell from Arsenal. Having entered the final days of the transfer window with just Carlos Cuellar and Louis Saha as new signings, Sunderland were thought to be in for yet another mediocre season, but everything changed when the club chiefs decided to splash around €26 million on Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson. In doing so they have made the job easier for playmaker Stephane Sessegnon and winger James McClean, who were team’s only creative outlets. In spite of some problems with injuries, the Black Cats enjoyed a really bright start to the season, taking four points from home games against Liverpool and Wigan, but, more importantly, avoiding defeat in away games against Arsenal, Swansea and West Ham. With Adam Johnson back to the side and eager to prove his former club wrong, I can see Sunderland getting something from this game.
Everybody can see Manchester City are far from the desired form at the moment, with the draining Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund likely to leave an effect on the injury-plagued squad. With Sunderland flying high at the moment, the value is on the Black Cats here.
Verdict: Sunderland with +1.5 Asian handicap
Best Odds: 11/10