Daily Star

PHIL THE MAN TO HURT POCH

City to pile on the pressure at top

- by STEVE ANDERSON

PEP GUARDIOLA will keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Liverpool today by once again getting the better of rival boss Mauricio Pochettino.

The Manchester City boss will welcome his Chelsea counterpar­t to the Etihad knowing that the Argentine coach has lost more competitiv­e matches against him than he has against any other manager.

Poch’s 13 defeats and only four wins from 23 encounters with Guardiola illustrate­s the task ahead for the Stamford Bridge side.

And Chelsea – who would love a confidence boost ahead of their EFL Cup final date with Liverpool next weekend – couldn’t have picked a worse time to come up against City, with Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland both back from injury and starting the pull the strings again for the Etihad men.

With 11 successive wins in all competitio­ns and an unbeaten home league run of 22 games – which includes 18 wins – it’s hard to see anything other than a City win here at best odds of 9-25 with Ladbrokes and Coral.

Pochettino’s side are a general 15-2 to grab a surprise victory, with the draw at 24-5 with Unibet. Chelsea do come into the clash with a bit of confidence, having won their last two away matches 3-1, at Aston Villa in the FA Cup and Crystal Palace in the league.

And Poch will likely be happy to settle for a point, having already done just that in the reverse fixture that finished a remarkable 4-4.

I reckon Chelsea will find the net again and give City a run for their money, so backing City to win and both teams to score could well pay off at odds of 13-8. However you can have the same odds for a City win and four or more goals in the game, which may be the safer option – just in case City run away with it!

I’d prefer to take the slightly better odds of 10-3 on Sky Bet’s correct score group betting that Guardiola’s men win by 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2.

But if you want a big pay day, then take a flyer on this being another goalfest and back the 3-2 correct score at William Hill’s huge 25-1.

Phil Foden has been in top form for City, with four goals and two assists in his last four matches, including a hat-trick at Brentford.

You won’t get rich backing Haaland to find the net, so it may be more profitable to take the England internatio­nal to open the scoring here at odds of around 7-1, while Foden is also 2-1 to net at any time.

I do like the look of Sky Bet’s enhanced odds of 14-1, from 11-1, that Foden and his former City team-mate Cole Palmer both get on the scoresheet.

Palmer’s 10 league goals in 20 appearance­s – a tally most strikers would be proud of – make the midfielder Chelsea’s top scorer in the competitio­n this term.

He will be keen to make an impression on his old stamping ground so I’d also back him at 10-3 to score at any time – or even at the more attractive odds of 11-1 to hit the last goal.

Sky Bet’s enhanced 6-1, from 9-2, that Palmer simply gets two shots on target is possibly a safer option, given that he did just that in the reverse fixture at the Bridge.

 ?? ?? ■ TAKING AIM: Phil Foden celebrates after completing his hat-trick at Brentford
■ TAKING AIM: Phil Foden celebrates after completing his hat-trick at Brentford

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