City to keep it clean
Ian Ogg previews Tuesday's Barclays Premier League clashes between Man City and West Brom and Wigan against Swansea.
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Manchester City host West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium but with the title already decided and a top-four finish assured Roberto Mancini's team have only their pride - and a place in the squad for next season - to play for against a team that is already guaranteed of their league among the elite for another year following a successful season.
Wigan have much more to play for in the televised fixture against Swansea as the FA Cup finalists attempt to repeat last season's miraculous escape from relegation. Roberto Martinez's side are still in the bottom three but face a Swansea team without a win in seven and could leapfrog Newcastle and Norwich if collecting maximum points.
- 2pts Manchester City to win to nil (Coral 8/5) - Formidable defensive record at home and should be able to keep the WBA strike force at bay.
- 1pt second half to be the highest scoring half in Wigan v Swansea (Bwin 6/5) - Roughly three quarters of the goals scored by both teams have come in the second period.
Manchester City v West Brom
There is the sense of season's fizzling out for both Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion with the League title long gone and Premiership safety safely secured.
City were off the pace in Saturday's goalless draw at Swansea but have only dropped points in four home fixtures (losing once) and it's highly unlikely that they'll drop points against their Black Country rivals even if Steve Clarke will be looking for a reaction to their defeat against Wigan.
With a goals tally of 48, Albion have nowhere near the firepower of Mancini's expensively assembled squad but they have scored more times than any of the 12 teams below them and have only failed to score in five road trips.
Those blanks came against Arsenal, Manchester United, Fulham, Chelsea and Stoke and their strikers could be in for another long evening against the parsimonious City defence.
It took City 11 games to get that first clean sheet of the season but they've had 19 more since then and that could easily have been 20 but for Joe Hart's injury against West Ham enabling Andy Carroll to find the back of the net in injury time.
City had kept the opposition at bay in the five preceding matches and in nine of the preceding 10 and should be backed to do so again.
The correct score forecasts are an option with prices of 7/1 and upwards for 1, 2 and 3 nil results but with concerns that some of City's players have taken their eyes off the ball as the season winds down Coral's 8/5 makes more appeal.
Verdict: Man City 2 West Brom 0
Wigan v Swansea
There's no doubt which side needs the three points more as Roberto Martinez attempts to pull another rabbit out of the relegation hat.
Swansea are nine places above Wigan in the Premier League table but their placings are reversed in the form table with Michael Laudrup's side garnering just three points from their last seven games and that, coupled with the home side's need for points, sees Wigan the odds-on favourites for this crucial encounter.
That run has included games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Man City, however, so there are mitigating factors but the trouble is where are the goals going to come from without Michu.
The Spaniard has netted 17 times in the Barclays Premier League with Jonathan de Guzman and Wayne Routledge next up with five goals apiece and that raises real concerns for those looking to side with the Swans who can be backed at prices as big as 4/1.
Wigan have won just four home games this season but half of those have come in their last three games and they were desperately unlucky not to have won all three after Spurs' late equaliser from a contentious free-kick.
So where does that leave us?
I'd edge towards a home win but Wigan look a little too short and Swansea a little too big but there could be some mileage in the highest scoring half market.
All three goals in the reverse fixture came in the second half and both sides have scored roughly three quarters of their goals in the second period of play.
If Wigan do get their noses in front and Swansea shape as though they've already set off on their summer break there's still every incentive for the home team to continue pushing forward with goal difference a potentially crucial factor so back the second half to be the highest scoring 45 minutes with Bwin at 6/5.
Verdict: Wigan 2 Swansea 1
Wigan v Swansea is live on Sky Sports and Sky Sports HD