Manchester City v Stoke
Saturday April 23, 9:45pm
Manchester City perhaps had one eye on their clash with Real Madrid next week as they were held to a 1-1 draw at St. James’ Park in midweek and were fortunate to even come away with that point as Sergio Aguero’s goal should have been ruled out for offside. Stoke, meanwhile, were well beaten at home to title-chasing Spurs and have slipped down to ninth after picking up just one win in their last six games.
Man City headed into the Newcastle game on the back of three straight wins, but given their somewhat underwhelming performance in that game, a closer look at the form of their wins makes for interesting reading.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men won at Bournemouth (who have lost five of their last seven home games), at home to West Brom (who have lost three of their last four) and at Chelsea (who have only won one of their last eight at home).
City are W11-D1-L5 at the Etihad this campaign but interestingly all five of those defeats were against top-eight sides as Southampton and Chelsea in their opening home game of the campaign are the only top-half sides they’ve beaten.
City trailed at the break in four of these games but managed to score in six and as a result six saw more than two goals and three had more than three strikes.
The thumping at the hands of Spurs means that Stoke have now conceded eight goals in their last two games and have conceded at least twice in four of their last five.
Indeed, the Potters have managed just one clean sheet in their last 12 as only Bournemouth of sides in the top-16 have been worse defensively this term.
Their away record is W6-D5-L6, with four of those defeats coming in their last seven road games and they’ve also trailed at the break in four of their last six away. When travelling to top-four sides their record since the start of last season is W1-D1-L5 as they conceded at least twice in six.
The exception, however, was a win at the Etihad in their third game of last season. That was the only time they didn’t concede a first-half goal in these matches as they’ve trailed at the break in four of the last five.
Stoke have suffered heavy 3-0 and 4-1 defeats against Liverpool and Man Utd in recent weeks and their poor defensive record at the top teams and in general this season, together with Man City’s own defensive struggles at home to top-half sides (they’ve managed just one clean sheet in seven of these games) means that both teams to score looks the best bet in this one.
Indeed, Stoke have several defensive absentees for this game as Jack Butland, Erik Pieters and Glen Johnson are all out, as is Jon Walters, without whom Stoke have struggled this term, losing nine of 17 matches without him but maintaining a similar scoring rate to when he was in the side.
Leicester v Swansea
Monday April 25, 1:15am
Leicester dropped points for the first time since the beginning of March as they drew 2-2 at home to West Ham but it could have been even worse for the Foxes as they equalised via a dubious 95th minute penalty after West Ham had taken the lead following a red card for Jamie Vardy.
Swansea, meanwhile, were beaten 3-0 at St. James’ Park, though that scoreline flattered Rafa Benitez’s side somewhat as two of their goals came in the last 10 minutes. As a result, the Swans have slipped down to 15th but are 10 points clear of the relegation zone and all but safe.
Andy Carroll’s 84th minute penalty ended Leicester’s remarkable run of 574 minutes without conceding a league goal but with that last gasp penalty, Claudio Ranieri’s men maintained their unbeaten run at home which now stretches to 13 games.
Indeed, Leicester’s overall home record this term is W10-D6-L1, with Arsenal the only side to take three points away from the King Power Stadium. When hosting sides between 11th and 17th, Leicester are W3-D2-L0 as they beat Norwich, Watford and Palace, but drew against West Brom and Bournemouth as three of these games saw fewer than two goals.
Since Francesco Guidolin took over at Swansea, their record is W5-D3-L4 and the Italian has got them much more organised defensively as they’ve only conceded more than once in four of these 12 games (33.3%), compared with nine of their first 22 matches (40.9%).
The Swans are W2-D2-L3 on the road under Guidolin, with wins over Everton and Arsenal together with a draw at the Britannia and they also led at White Hart Lane until the 70th minute before Spurs mounted a comeback.
The defeat at Newcastle was the only one of these road games that Swansea failed to find the net in and they’ve also scored in seven of their eight trips to top-half sides this term.
Leicester’s home record when they’ve conceded this term is W4-D4-L1, with draws in three of the last four of these games. Furthermore, the Foxes will be forced to line up without Jamie Vardy for the first time this season following his red card against West Ham which will be a big blow as he’s netted 22 of their 59 goals this term (37.3%).
With that in mind, we’re taking Ranieri’s side on here against a Swansea side that’s much-improved under Guidolin and have a decent W3-D0-L4 record when travelling to top-four sides since the start of last season, scoring in all of these games.