Sunderland v Man City: festive joy in short supply for hosts

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Manchester City have been installed as the 4/9 favourites to win this clash at the Stadium of Light – and it would take a brave punter to back against Roberto Mancini’s men.

The reigning Premier League champions are undefeated on the road this season and, despite not hitting top form yet, they are well in the title hunt.

They were brilliant for long periods in their 3-1 victory against Newcastle last week and should have more than enough to come through against a Sunderland side who continue to struggle in stringing results together.

The icy clutches of the relegation zone have been closing in on the Black Cats for most of the season and they remain very much in a battle to avoid the drop, despite two wins in three fixtures against fellow bottom-three contenders Reading and Southampton.

It goes without saying that City will represent a very different challenge.

The Citizens dismissed Sunderland 3-0 earlier in the season at Eastlands and also smashed them 5-0 back in April 2011.

Backing City – who have the best away defence in the division – to win to nil against a side who’ve averaged just 1.18 goals at home this season looks well worth a punt at 6/4.

However, Sunderland have a fairly decent record against City and have not lost in their previous three home games against the mega-rich side, winning the last two encounters 1-0, including over the Christmas/New Year period last season.

If you fancy a big upset then they can be backed at 9/2 to get the three points and at 16/1 to get a hat-trick of 1-0 victories.

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