Manuel Pellegrini shouldn’t have to get abacus out to realise the significance of Saturday’s game with Arsenal (12.45pm)
Manchester City (5/6f) sit six points behind the league leaders and with the Christmas fixtures smash up just around the corner it’s all about getting the points on the board.
Win, and the blue half of Manchester will be genuine title contenders. Lose, and Arsenal (10/3) open up a nine-point gap over the Citizens and Arsenal Wenger can put brasso on his Christmas wish-list.
City are scoring at home more than Nigella Lawson and boast 21 points from seven games with 29 of their 41 goal-total coming at the Etihad. Arsenal will have to get to grips with 12-goal Sergio Aguero (11 coming in his last 10 league games) early doors and the Argentine is 4/1 to get the first goal of the game.
The Gunners are no slackers on the road though, having W5, D1, L1 of their seven away games scoring 14 and conceding five.
Aaron Ramsey (8) and Olivier Giroud (7) are their top scorers so far this season with Giroud averaging a goal every two games. The Frenchman is 11/5 to score at anytime or 15/2 to get the first goal of the game for the visitors. The Gunners have hit the onion bag first in 13 of their 15 Premier Leagues games this season and are 7/5 to score first with Paddy Power.
City shade the last six head-to-head clashes at the Etihad having W3 and D1 with Arsenal winning two. The last three encounters in Manchester have seen a draw and a victory for each side (1-1, 1-0, and 0-3).
But City have kept five clean sheets at home this season including their last three games and are 9/5 to shut Arsenal out – even if Joe Hart gets game time.