Dutch Masters to Trouble City
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2pts Ajax (+1) to beat Manchester City at 15/8 (Sky Bet)
Push has come to shove once again for Manchester City in the Champions League and the feeling of disharmony that has pervaded the Etihad Stadium lately makes them a team to take on when they face Ajax again on Tuesday.
Roberto Mancini's side have managed just one point from three games so far and are already resigned to having to produce a perfect three out of three for the rest of the group matches if they are going to progress to the knockout phase.
So Mancini has admitted a "miracle" is required and a drab display against West Ham over the weekend in a goalless draw at Upton Park where they failed to show any real creativity as they tried to break down a resilient home side does not bode particularly well for their prospects.
The Italian has been irked by the media's lack of understanding as to why they have yet to crack the European scene, and to be fair, he does make a valid point as clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea are vastly more experienced campaigners.
That will be no comfort to City, who must get three points on Tuesday against a lively Dutch outfit who did not get the credit they deserved when outplaying City for much of the 3-1 success in the reverse fixture in Amsterdam a fortnight ago.
The post-mortem seemed to talk about how poorly City had played but it is as easy to argue that they were never allowed a chance to flourish by Ajax with Frank de Boer's side also showing a much more clinical ability when chances came their way in front of goal.
They did manage to lose their unbeaten record in the Eredivisie over the weekend in a 2-0 home loss to Vitesse but they went into the last encounter against City on the back of a fairly uninspiring 3-3 league draw with Heracles.
So I am pretty confident they will bring their best game to Manchester and are well worth an interest getting a start of a goal on the handicap.
As well as the perceived unrest, Mancini also has to deal with some more injury problems with Joleon Lescott and James Milner the latest duo to end up on the treatment table.
Overall, Ajax have enough about them to at least grab a draw for the bet to deliver and leave City well and truly on the ropes in terms of this year's competition.
Second-placed Arsenal meet Group B leaders Schalke in Gelsenkirchen with the latter odds-on at a best price of 10/11 to do the double over the Gunners.
The layers look to have got this one about right with punters seemingly keen to get with the hosts as Arsene Wenger's side struggle to find the consistency to compete both in this and at the upper end of the Premier League.
They have simply lost too many good players over the past couple of seasons and it has become obvious that the fact can no longer be masked by the firepower up front of Robin van Persie.
Schalke boss Huub Stevens has threatened to shake things up in response to a 3-2 Bundesliga loss to Hockenheim over the weekend and with a couple of key players potentially missing, that is just enough to put me off suggesting a bet at the prices.