Giving their neighbours a sound trouncing a couple of weeks ago was nice, but following it up with a couple of effective, but below-par performances is perhaps even more encouraging. The billionaires of City travelled to the multi-millionaires of QPR and got a bit of a shock, but pulled it out of the bag when it mattered to suggest they may actually have genuine title credentials – much to the chagrin of the red half of Manchester, much of London and anyone else who perched on the ‘you can’t buy success’ bandwagon. Here’s how the tale unfolded through the live betting odds:
Pre-Match: Even though they shocked Chelsea at the same venue a couple of weeks ago and got John Terry to say something that was at the very least offensive and at most, likely to earn him a post-football career general election campaign on behalf of the BNP, QPR start as big 15/2 outsiders to win the game. It’s a bit of a banana-skin for City, but as they’ve now established some team spirit to somewhat defy the perception of ‘disinterested mercenaries’ they’re the 2/5 favourites. The ‘If you offered me a draw beforehand, I’ll have bitten your hand off’ lie both managers will be happy to peddle in case of a stalemate is 7/2.
10 mins: If there’s one thing Neil Warnock is good at – apart from furiously blaming referees for virtually all of his managerial shortcomings – it’s getting his teams to have a go and despite the vast difference in price tags, QPR make the better start, which has the Match of the Day scrambling together their thoughts on why they won’t win the league. Nothing much happens with the match prices however, except the draw becomes slightly less unlikely than it once was.
30 mins: QPR take the lead and remind City fans that when Joey Barton isn’t too busy picking fights on Twitter or quoting George Orwell, he’s actually a decent player. His cross from a free-kick sets up Jay Boothroyd who jumps higher than two City players – neither of which is David Silva therefore making it a decent achievement – to place a firm header into the corner – of the net rather than the pitch as we’ve sometimes seen from Boothroyd.. All of a sudden another upset of a money bags team is on the cards, but City are still favourites to win it. 7/5 City, 15/8 QPR and 15/8 the draw.
Half Time: Boothroyd hits the post and narrowly fails to extend the lead, but just when it looks like Neil Warnock will have to give a half-time speech that won’t involve the slander of a referee, Edin Dzeko provides the ‘good with the ball at his feet for a big man’ cliché. He gets on to a through ball from James Milner on the left hand side of the box, cuts inside, makes Anton Ferdinand look like a bit of fool before placing the ball past Paddy Kenny. City go in for their half time oranges as the 4/6 favourites to win the game with their hosts out to 5/1.
60 mins: With the whingeing of Warnock no doubt ringing in their ears, QPR come out of the blocks better for the second half. Joey Baron forces a save from Joe Hart, but City go up the other end and David Silva finishes off some job work from Dzeko with a nice bit of control and a finish. It’s not quite the dominance we’ve seen from them, but City are in the lead and the odds say they won’t be caught. 1/10 City, 25/1 the Rs and 11/2 the draw.
70 mins: But it’s not all over all the way the squiggly lines would suggest! Helguson equalises although admittedly he knew sweet FA about it. QPR put together a decent move, Boothroyd skilfully directs his header onto Helguson’s back and the touch is enough to take it past Joe Hart. Initially it looks like the most offside goal in history and the City players gather around the ref and linesman to have a moan. Replays show that a City player ran of the pitch in trying to cut out the cross and the linesman made the right call which is a huge surprise to everyone. With 20 minutes to go, the prospect of City dropping their first points since September is a distinct possibility. It’s evens the draw, 11/10 City and QPR are 6/1 to go on and win.
80 mins: Thankfully the United impression doesn’t end with the excessive intimidation of a referee’s assistant and City show their resolve to take the lead once again. Yaya Toure rises highest to get on to the end of a Kolarov cross, powering a header past Paddy Kenny who wouldn’t have got near it even if he could jump. It’s in the back at this stage with City 1/25 to hold own, the draw 7/1 and only the eternally optimistic and/or desperate plumping for the 125/1 odd on offer for QPR to turn it around. There’s panic in the MOTD studio as Hansen et al all of a sudden need to hastily rewrite their rants about City lacking the battling qualities to win the league.
– Premier League Betting