Odds: Swansea: 19/4, The Draw: 7/2, Man City: 12/25
Were it not for the heroics of West Ham United, Manchester City would be in quite the bind ahead of their trip to Swansea City on the Premier League’s final day.
The Irons’ 3-2 win over Manchester United in midweek ensures that the Citizens travel to south Wales with their top-four finish fate still in their hands.
A draw is all they require from their Liberty Stadium sojourn in order guarantee incoming coach Pep Guardiola Champions League football in his first season at the Etihad, but given their humdrum end to the campaign, City are by no means assured to avoid defeat.
The extent of the Swans’ success in their battle against a motivation crisis is outlined in their comfortable wins over Liverpool and West Ham and they’ll certainly not make life for Manuel Pellegrini’s men easy at a venue where they’ve encountered plenty of problems in the past.
Win, Lose or Draw
After handing Newcastle United a relegation lifeline and stepping aside for Leicester City to grab one of the Premier League trophy’s handles in recent matches, Swansea seemed to be setting an end-of-season precedent of servility.
Scheduled to face three more teams with various objectives still to achieve, it was suspected that Francesco Guidolin’s men, who had been all-but mathematically safe for several weeks, would continue rolling over until they wound up on their summer holidays.
Their shock decision to defy expectations at home to Liverpool then away at West Ham, two games in which they recorded an aggregate score of 7-2, will have cost plenty of punters a quid or two.
Results of the previous two weekends suggest they’re not going to facilitate the easy ride City are hoping for, while recent trips to the Liberty support the notion that they’re in for a tough game.
Swansea have picked up four points from as many base camp battles with the Citizens, losing the last two. But even in those defeats, they still managed to find the back of the net twice.
It’s a number of goals that would’ve guaranteed the opposition a point in all bar one of City’s last six matches.
In addition to the visitors winning just one of their last six, Chelsea and Bournemouth are the only domestic foes they’ve conquered on their travels since the first fixture of February.
By contrast, the hosts have romped to four straight wins in front of the faithful, shipping once in the process and rate an excellent bet to sabotage City’s top-four hopes here.
The last two duels between these two at the Liberty were veritable goalfests, with six and five bagged in both matches respectively.
A combination of City caginess and recent form, however, suggests this one will follow a contrasting course.
The Swans have won four in a row at their south Wales stronghold, but three of these games were settled by 1-0 scorelines, while the three fixtures that preceded their winning streak all saw fewer than 2.5 goals notched.
As for City, two of three road games have failed to cross the three-strike threshold.
Recommended bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 6/4
Who’s going to score?
Wilfried Bony’s scoring record in this fixture is astounding, with five notched in total – three for Swansea, two for City – across the previous four renewals.
The Ivorian is sure to start on the bench, but if the visitors are in a position where they need a goal, who better to bring on?
Two of his five strikes have been the last of the match and he’s a great bet to have the final say again.
Recommended bet: Bony to score last @ 9/2
The result at half-time has been identical to the full-time outcome in each of the previous seven City matches and the same applies to the previous five Swans outings.
Having placed our faith in the hosts, they’ll be ahead at the interval as well as the final whistle if these sequences seep into this one.
Recommended bet: Swansea HT/FT @ 9/1