BILLY BUNTER

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Everton should make classy Citizens work

Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League, 12.30pm

Mighty Manchester City fell at the 16th flight in pursuit of an unbeaten Premier League season and they need to be wary of blundering again as they welcome Everton to the Etihad.

The layers have no doubts that Pep Guardiola’s thoroughbreds, who were deservedly beaten 2-0 at Chelsea last weekend, will be back in the winner's enclosure and back on top of the table for 24 hours at least.

But it's hard to make a case for City being value at very skinny odds, especially with concerns over the strength of the side Guardiola will put out against the Toffees.

We saw at Chelsea that against high-calibre opposition it’s possible to for City be made to look ordinary, especially when players of the quality of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero are absent.

Both men are back in training but neither is guaranteed to start. However, we do know that David Silva is out and Fernandinho is also a doubt.

None of that quartet played against Hoffenheim in the Champions League on Tuesday night when City won 2-1, a deserved victory against a side who were bottom of the group and couldn’t qualify for the last 16.

Guardiola is blessed with a sublime squad but if you remove enough gems from the mix it quickly loses its sparkle. Team news, therefore, is going to be significant but a bet on the Toffees keeping things respectable may not be a bad idea.

Remarkably given that City seem to win all the time on home soil, Everton’s last three Premier League visits to the Etihad have ended in draws. Since the last one of those – a 1-1 draw in August 2017 – City have played 26 home fixtures in the league and won 24 of them with just one defeat.

They have won nine home Premier League games in a row while Guardiola has won all five of his competitive matches as a manager against Marco Silva by an aggregate score of 19-2.

In spite of that, a bet on Everton on the Asian handicap at odds-against with a 1.5-goal start could pay off.

You might not think that given Everton’s away record of just one win in seven road trips, and that was against a Leicester side who finished with ten men. Indeed in recent history the Blues have been shocking travellers – they have not won more than five away games in any of the last four seasons.

And they come into the game after a sub-standard effort against Watford on Monday, a 2-2 draw in which the visitors were the better side.

But Everton look good away from home this season. Their well-protected back four are happy playing on the counter, where they can utilise the pace of Theo Walcott and top scorer Richarlison. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bernard provide the ingenuity from deeper positions.

This is their eighth away game of the season and all eight have been against sides currently in the top half of the table. Their three losses – narrow ones at Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool – were tough to take and games in which they acquitted themselves well.

On a statistical note, teams are the corner kings of the Premier League. Back their tussle to yield 12 or more. City average 7.8 per game and Everton 6.4.

Recommendations
Everton +1.5 on Asian handicap
1pt 6-5 bet365
Over 11.5 corners
1pt 29-20 BoyleSports

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Match in Focus

12:30 TODAY SKY

Wolves v Leicester

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Leicester have lost one of their last six clashes with Wolves
Expert verdict
Leicester are a tough team to call but they have a good record in this fixture and can at least avoid defeat. The Foxes followed December wins over Chelsea and Man City with defeats to Newport and Southampton but Wolves have won just four of their 11 home games this season and may be vulnerable.