Weblog: The football punter

Take champions to hit back with convincing win


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Complacency was blamed by some for Manchester City's defeat at Newcastle on Tuesday and that could spell trouble for Arsenal with the Premier League champions set to be fully focused for the visit of the Gunners.

Liverpool's failure to take advantage of City's slip will have been a relief to all those at the Etihad as they fell only one point further back to trail by five, and the gap should be back to two points after this clash.

Sergio Aguero's first-minute goal at St James' Park seemed to cause City to fall into a lethargic trap, lacking the intensity usually associated with Pep Guardiola's side, and they paid the price in a 2-1 defeat.

Before the shock loss to the 17-1 shots, City had won eight successive matches by an aggregate margin of 33-2 and they tend to be a safe choice at short odds for accumulator backers at home, where Guardiola's side have won 17 of 19 this season.

That includes a run of 14 victories out of the last 15 at the Etihad, with City scoring at least twice in every home Premier League match this season.

Combine that with Arsenal's injury-hit defence and it points to a high-scoring win for the champions, probably by at least two goals, even though they have conceded in eight of their 12 home league contests this term.

Guardiola has another midweek game to think about - City are away to Everton on Wednesday - but his squad is strong enough to absorb plenty of rotation with Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus among the subs on Tyneside.

Whoever starts, City have enjoyed their recent meetings against Arsenal, winning each of the last four by at least two goals.

Should Arsenal go behind again they would be well-served not to drop their heads with City having scored first in each of their last three league defeats against Leicester, Crystal Palace and Newcastle.

However, those teams share a desire to defend deep against elite opponents and are prepared to spend large periods without possession, whereas Arsenal seem too proud to do anything other than play their own, attack-minded game.

Arsenal have conceded ten goals in three away matches against the big six this season and are still waiting for an elusive first away Premier League clean sheet of the campaign.

There should be no doubts that Arsenal carry a forward threat with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while new signing Denis Suarez has a keen eye for a pass, but most teams who play loose against City normally regret it at the full-time whistle.

Man City -1.5 on Asian handicap

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Match in Focus

20:00 We 17Jul EURO

Tunisia v Nigeria

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • The last five meetings have ended all square.
Expert verdict
Tunisia have won only one of their six matches in 90 minutes at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations and their stubborn qualities may frustrate Nigeria in the battle for third place. The Eagles of Carthage dumped out Ghana on penalties in the last 16 and took Senegal to extra-time in the semi-finals.