Don't forget the Swede on New Year's Day!
Sunderland v Manchester City
New Year's Day - 15:00 - live on Sky Sports 1
William Hill Odds: Sunderland 5/1 Draw 11/4 Manchester City 4/7
Since taking charge Martin O'Neill has managed seven points from four games, and will be hoping that his Sunderland team can pull off the impossible on New Year's Day to go three games unbeaten for the first time in over a year. The Black Cats now sit four points off the relegation zone thanks to the Martin O'Neill factor and are in the enviable position of going into a game over the festive period with a nothing to lose attitude. Sunderland are 5/1 to beat City at the Stadium of Light and although large they could arguable be even greater considering what they're up against on Sunday.
Roberto Mancini is possibly the only manager in the Premier League who can cope comfortably will two fixtures in just over two days and Martin O'Neill himself has argued the crowded Christmas fixture list gives an unfair advantage to clubs like Manchester City. However O'Neill, who had an unhappy six-month stint playing for City during the early 1980s, will take heart from the result at the Hawthorns on Boxing Day. With good organization, a willing to work and a nice helping of luck West Brom were able to pull off the 0-0 draw which had pre-match odds of 10/3 for the draw and 14/1 on the correct score. For this one if Sunderland can achieve the same you would see a 12/1 return on your money.
It's always difficult to determine exactly what eleven Mancini will put on the pitch. One thing we do know is that with the exception of Carlos Tevez, who should be on his way shortly, the Italian has a full roster of players to choose from. In the back of his mind will be the home fixture against Liverpool on the 3rd of January but still expect a strong side to turn out at 3 o'clock. Sergio Aguero is the man in form for the Blues, he has 13 Premier League goals to his name and is 7/2 to score the first goal and 10/11 anytime.
On the other hand Martin O'Neill has a lot of defensive problems with the likes of Bramble and Bardsley likely to miss the game. He may call on Matt Kilgallon to partner Wes Brown at Centre-half who was a player told to train with the youth team by Steve Bruce. Goals may not be on the manager's mind but expect Sebastian Larsson to have been practicing his set pieces as much as a kid with a new football on Christmas day. The Swede is unbelievable value at 6/1 anytime and 16/1 first goalscorer considering he is one of the best set piece takers in the Premier League.
With this being the big televised game on Sunday William Hill will be offering a Match winner Special. If either City or Sunderland come from behind to win the game we will pay out at a very generous 11/2, enhanced from 4/1.
For me Man City will be feeling the pressure from the champions and will look to send out a message for 2012. City -2 goals @ 4/1 looks good value as well as the 4/7 available on the 90 minutes which is a must selection in any accumulator put down in the next few days.