Man City to close title gap on Liverpool in the early kick-off

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It gets to this part of the season when kick-off times – which usually effects nothing except when to get the pre-match pies in during the rest of the season – play a strangely significant part in whether a side wins or not.

Manchester City will be told by all manner of cliche-spluttering pundits that they have a prime opportunity to heap the pressure on Liverpool’s title challenge when they face Southampton in the weekend’s early kick-off, and they’ll certainly heed the advice.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side can be backed at 1/3 to topple the visiting south coast club, with a draw priced up at 4/1 and a Saints victory a lengthy 15/2 chance.

The head-to-head records suggest that the Citizens’ favouritism is further justified, with the sky-blue wearers winning all of the last three home clashes with their red-and-white striped counterparts.

In all of those matches City led at both half time and the final whistle and, with the former champions winning 19 of their 30 first halves this season, Ladbrokes expect that to be the case again at 8/11.

The trends for those recent three home matches continue to stack up for City, who scored two or more goals in the trio of victories – games that went over the 2.5-goal mark on each occasion – and it’s 1/2 that this clash is the fourth in succession that contains three or more total goals.

While Southampton have strung together an impressive campaign, nestling themselves toastily into eighth place, they still have one overriding weakness, both home and away, against the big teams.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men have only won one game, at Liverpool, against teams that currently sit above them in the table and have shipped two or more goals in four of their six visits to those teams. You can back Man City at 11/10 to score over 2.5 against them this weekend.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.