Manchester City can consolidate their top-three place by defeating second-from-bottom Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad on Sunday (13:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
City go into the match on the back of three consecutive league victories that have seen them recover from four defeats in their previous six to move back into second in the Premier League table, with 70 points from 21 wins, seven draws and seven defeats.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side recorded a 1-0 win away to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. Sergio Aguero scored the only goal of the game at the end of a nicely executed first-half counter-attack. Joe Hart (pictured) was called into serious action on a couple of occasions in what was generally an even encounter but one from which Man City emerged with all three points.
The win maintained their nine-point gap to Liverpool in fifth. With three matches left to play, City need just one more point to confirm Champions League qualification. The victory also saw them move five points clear of Manchester United in fourth, putting them in a strong position to take the top-three finish that would secure a place in next season’s group stage.
The club’s inability to offer a genuine challenge to title winners Chelsea during the second half of the season will obviously rankle but this has been far from a disastrous season for the Citizens, despite the drop off in standard compared to the previous campaign. They do, though, possess a relatively old squad that could do with some regeneration this summer.
Pellegrini can not utilise the injured Stevan Jovetic (muscle) and Vincent Kompany (thigh), while Samir Nasri (groin), Jesus Navas (hamstring) and Yaya Toure (hamstring) are unlikely to take any part in the game.
Queens Park Rangers travel to Manchester on the back of just one win in their last 10 league matches and just two in 16 since the turn of the year. They are 19th in the Premier League with 27 points from seven wins, six draws and 22 defeats.
Chris Ramsey’s side fell to a 2-1 defeat away to Liverpool last weekend. They conceded early but rarely committed sufficient numbers forward to create quality chances. Leroy Fer did, though, volley home from a corner to equalise mid-way through the second half, only for the home side to score an 87th-minute winner after Nedum Onuoha had been sent off.
Ramsey replaced Harry Redknapp in early February and led his side to victory away to Sunderland in his second match in charge. QPR have, however, won just once thereafter, alongside seven defeats and two draws. Seven points separate them from safety with just three games to play. Barring a minor miracle, the Championship now awaits.
QPR’s average goal difference per match has improved by a fair margin since Ramsey took charge. They have been roughly a goal better off for every two matches they play. However, that has not translated into points. They have actually taken less points per match (0.67) under his command than they did under Redknapp (0.83) earlier in the campaign.
Ramsey can not call upon the injured Alejandro Faurlin (anterior cruciate ligament), Eduardo Vargas (knee) and Mauro Zarate (knee) and the suspended Onuoha. The unlikely participants are Armand Traore (calf), Rio Ferdinand (knock) and Steven Caulker (hand).
Man City v QPR Betting Tips Verdict
These sides drew 2-2 when they met at Loftus Road in November, with Man City twice coming from behind thanks to two goals from Aguero. City have won both of the top-flight encounters between the sides at the Etihad this millennium and three of the five meetings at all venues. QPR’s last away win over these opponents came in the Championship back in 2000.
Man City suffered four away defeats on the bounce through March and April, and it was their home form that kept them from slipping out of the top four. They have won each of their last five matches at the Etihad, while scoring 15 goals and conceding just two. They have more than enough firepower to punish the league’s worst defence.
It is now or never for QPR, who surely need to take a full nine points from their final three fixtures if they are to have any chance of extending their Premier League stay. Their away record does not, however, make for pretty reading. They have lost 14 of their 17 matches on their travels this season, while conceding an average of over two goals per match. City can therefore be expected to record a comfortable victory.
- Back Manchester City -2 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 30/29 with BetVictor. The bet pays out if City win by more than two goals, while your stake is returned if they win by two
- Man City have scored inside the opening 27 minutes in four of their last five home matches, while QPR have conceded within the opening 21 minutes in four of their last five matches on their travels. Back the time of the first Man City goal to be under 27 minutes @ 5/6 with Bet365.