Admittedly it has been a year of disappointment for Manchester City, which won the English Premier League two years running but has been left very much in the dust by Liverpool this season.
But emotion plays a large part in the success of any professional sports team, and Man City should be carrying some momentum from that perspective into Wednesday’s matchup against Bournemouth, which is taking place at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium at 1 PM ET on Wednesday.
There is still opportunity to do well in both the FA Cup and the Champions League. The latter represents a sore spot; City has been to the last eight tournaments, and has gotten to the semifinals only once. It had been thought that the 2016 hiring of Pep Guardiola as manager might help change that, inasmuch as he had won two Champions league titles while he was with Barcelona.
Next stop for this team is a meeting with Real Madrid, in which they hope to advance to the knockout round, where they would encounter either Juventus or Lyon.
The reason we mention some of this is that Man City was the beneficiary of a favorable ruling, getting a two-year Champions League ban (effective next year) overturned by the CAC (that’s the Court of Arbitration for Sport) for what is termed “financial fair play violations.”
And we’ll get to that in a moment.
In the Premier League soccer betting odds posted by the folks at BetAnySports, Man City is a prohibitive favorite:
Manchester City -666
Manchester City -2.5 (+106)
Bournemouth +2.5 (-121)
Over 3.5 Goals -126
Under 3.5 Goals +111
So Man City beat back the charge from UEFA, and that affects the club in the sense that marquee players like Kevin De Bruyne might not feel as inclined to take off for greener pastures. And it would not be as attractive a destination for prospective players with a ban in place.
Man City did have to incur a fine of €10million, and that brought the wrath of some people inside the EPL.
Jose Mourinho, coach at Tottenham, was upset with the ruling because of the mixed message it sent. He felt it was a “disgrace” either way, because he says that if Man City was not guilty, they shouldn’t have to incur a fine, and if they are guilty they should be banned.
But the fine was coming anyway, because of “failing to cooperate with UEFA authorities,” which essentially means they were not forthcoming about their financial picture during the investigation.
Either way, with the UEFA now failing on three rulings like this, some see a change in cost control regulations and something that works to the detriment of world football in general.
Bournemouth is facing the strong possibility of relegation, as they sit in the 18th spot in the standings. They are not as anemic as some teams offensively, but they are sieve-like on defense, yielding 1.7 goals per game. In three of the six matches they played since the EPL’s restart, they have been shut out, but they are coming off a 4-1 road win over fourth-place Leicester City on Sunday. With only a couple of days of rest and preparation, however, they are facing a more difficult task than usual.
Man City may not have any chance at all to win the EPL, but they are still sitting with a 23-9 record (with three draws) and they are easily the most high-powered contingent in the Premier League. With 91 goals scored, they are averaging 2.6 per game and they have hit paydirt 15 more times than Liverpool, which actually leads them by 21 points in the “table.” Manchester City’s +57 goal differential is also comfortably the best in the league.
Defender Kyle Walker told reporters, “I think the momentum is on our side, we’ve got the rhythm, players are looking sharp, feeling great….”
And it appears they are in good form. In this instance, the goal spread is very much in play, particularly with five goals in each of the last two games, coming on the heels of a shutout loss to Southampton, which itself followed a resounding 4-0 win over Liverpool.
It was a desperate side that opposed Leicester, and they were in “must-win” mode after victories had come to Watford, West Ham and Aston Villa – teams they are competing with to avoid demotion. Dominic Solanke scored his first two goals in the Bournemouth kit, as they lit up the board four times after the 66th minute. But you have to keep in mind that Leicester was reduced to ten men on the pitch due to a red card, and this was their first win in a span of ten matches.
We’re not going to lay the “to win” price with Man City, and although the “over” deserves contemplation, we’ll pass on that too. But the goal spread at +106 may be the way to go, considering that Bournemouth will have trouble holding off the onslaught, especially without defender Nathan Aké, who will miss the remaining games with a leg injury.
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