City vulnerable to early setback

  • By: Dale Tempest
  • Last Updated: March 8 2014, 20:00 GMT

Dale Tempest thinks Manchester City won't have it all their own way in the FA Cup clash with Wigan.

Man City may be caught napping as they enjoy last week's success
Man City may be caught napping as they enjoy last week's success

Former professional footballer Dale Tempest has turned bookie - he's now Sky Bet's public relations director.

A 16-year career saw him play for the likes of Fulham, Huddersfield and Colchester so he knows exactly how the game is played and these days he's very much got his finger on the pulse of the markets as both a punter and a bookie.

His regular Friday column explores the mindset of players and bookies and highlights the best bets for the weekend's action.

Here's his take on this weekend's action with concerns for Manchester City's mindset and Everton's record at Arsenal.

Dale's best bets:

Fulham to beat Cardiff
West Brom and Man Utd to draw
Under 1.5 goals in Norwich v Stoke
Arsenal to beat Everton
Man City to beat Wigan and both teams to score

'Must-win' is a phrase we'll hear plenty over the coming weeks, and it's one which we need to be careful not to get too drawn into.

Simply put, just because teams need to win, it doesn't mean they're good enough and the league table is usually the best indicator of a team's abilities - not their level of desperation.

We can run the risk of getting caught in emotion and betting on what a team needs rather than what they're able to achieve.

One game that fits the bill this weekend is Cardiff v Fulham, a game neither side can really afford to lose. At the prices, with Cardiff having failed to score in four of their last six, I'd much rather be on the visitors.

For the sake of David Moyes' credibility - and that of his squad - Manchester United really need a win at West Brom at lunchtime on Saturday. But the way they performed in Greece, you'd be a very brave man to back them at 8/11 regardless of the opposition.

Pepe Mel hasn't won a game yet since replacing Steve Clarke, but it's telling that West Brom have managed home draws against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool this season, who are all better than United at the moment. Surely, that's the way to play this game rather than take odds-on about this beleaguered United side.

With a tough set of fixtures at the end of April, you could argue that this weekend brings a must-win game for Norwich against Stoke.

There have only been six goals in the last five meetings of these sides so the under 2.5 goals will be popular even at 4/6. However, Norwich are going for a fifth clean sheet in the row at home and Stoke are missing creative influence Charlie Adam, so it could be worth going a step further and backing under 1.5 at 7/4.

Moving onto the FA Cup quarter-finals and key players in teams don't usually move the market massively, but they can change your mindset as a punter.

Phil Jagielka looks like he'll miss out for Everton when they visit Arsenal, and despite drawing their last two at the Emirates, Everton haven't beaten the Gunners away from home in 19 attempts.

Arsenal have conceded just three goals in their last 13 home games, an incredible record, and at prices just short of evens I'll definitely be on the Gunners.

Arsene Wenger may say that trophies aren't a priority but the reality is this is his best chance for quite a while, hence it should be a full-strength team despite next week's trip to Bayern.

Getting into the mindset of players is always something I try to do, and it wouldn't surprise me were Manchester City not quite at the races when they entertain Wigan.

City will still be on a high after they won the Capital One Cup and with the distraction of a trip to Barcelona on the horizon, it's possible they'll be caught cold on Sunday afternoon.

FA Cup holders Wigan probably won't repeat their heroics from last year's final, but they could score the first goal like Sunderland and Watford before them this season.

Similarly, a City victory and both teams to score has to be interesting at 15/8 or so.

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