Manchester City have their Champions League fate in their own hands when they travel to south Wales to take on Swansea City this weekend (3pm Sunday on Sky Sports 1).
Manuel Pellegrini’s side will confirm a top-four spot by matching or bettering Manchester United’s result against Bournemouth, while they could even qualify for Europe’s primary continental club competition with a loss if their local rivals are unable to win at Old Trafford.
A 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal last weekend took the Premier League’s final Champions League spot out of Man City’s hands, but they are now in pole position to scoop fourth after Manchester United were defeated 3-2 by West Ham United in midweek. It is, however, now just one win in their last four top flight outings for City, who were expected to challenge for the title before a ball had been kicked this term but are now battling to avoid falling out of the top four for the first time since 2010.
Unlike their upcoming opponents, Swansea have nothing left to play for after securing their Premier League status for another season last month. The Swans have done brilliantly since Francesco Guidolin (pictured) took charge in the middle of January, climbing out of the bottom three and into lower mid-table with six wins from their last 10 games. The news that the Italian will lead Swansea into the 2016/17 campaign will likely contribute to a positive atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium this weekend, with the home fans keen to see their side end the season on a high.
Pellegrini will be unable to call upon the services of David Silva (hamstring), Aleksandar Kolarov (knock), Pablo Zabaleta (calf) and captain Vincent Kompany (thigh) in his final match in charge of Manchester City. Sergio Aguero will be desperate to get his name on the scoresheet as he seeks to win the Golden Boot for the second successive season – the Argentina international has found the back of the net on 24 occasions, the same amount as Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and one fewer than Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane – with Kevin De Bruyne, Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling likely to be the men tasked with supplying Aguero with the ammunition on Sunday.
Swansea, meanwhile, will have to make do without Alberto Paloschi (hamstring), Gylfi Sigurdsson (shoulder) and Neil Taylor (groin), while Jefferson Montero is a doubt with a hamstring issue. Guidolin will probably be tempted to name the same starting XI as the one that thrashed West Ham 4-1 last time out, with Ki Sung-yeung, Andre Ayew and Wayne Routledge all starring in what was a superb all-round performance at Upton Park.
Our Preview’s Man City v Swansea Betting Tips Verdict
Swansea have a good record at the Liberty Stadium and may play with a degree of freedom as they seek to end the season on a positive note with a victory, while Man City are not in the best of form and could potentially struggle to turn around the negative momentum that is engulfing the club at present. Having said that, the stakes are high for Pellegrini’s side, who will be fully aware that failing to make the Champions League would be a massive disappointment for such a talented and expensively assembled squad.
Our preview’s conclusion is that backing Man City to come out on top looks to be the best option this weekend, with the odds on a 3-1 scoreline particularly tempting given the open and high-scoring nature of many of the Citizens’ matches in recent weeks. Aguero is understandably ranked as the favourite to open the scoring, but betting on De Bruyne – who has scored five goals in his last 10 club appearances – to do so instead would bring a better return.