Manchester City could race to a three-point lead over Liverpool if they can beat Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux tonight. Pep Guardiola's side are unbeaten in their last 16 Premier League away games. While that can usually be quite a reassuring bit of information, City fans will know that Wolves can be quite a tricky opponent.
Manchester City will be desperate to put some daylight between themselves and Liverpool. The Merseysiders dropped two valuable points against Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday (May 7) but survived an early scare to beat Aston Villa 2-1 on Tuesday (May 10).
But the home straight of the season can prove to be quite daunting for any side. It is even more so when they're involved in a title race that looks set to go down to the wire.
After crashing out of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, Manchester City are determined to retain the Premier League title. But things might not be all that straightforward against a side like Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five reasons why Manchester City could drop points against Wolves tonight.
#5 Wolves' home record against Manchester City
Manchester City beat Wolves 3-1 in this exact fixture last season. Now, here's an interesting piece of stat for you. Wolverhampton Wanderers have not lost consecutive home league games against Manchester City since 1981. The Cityzens have won all of their last three league meetings with Wolves.
But the last time they won four successive league matches against Wolves was all the way back in 1981. The Molineux faithful can really get behind their team when the need arises. Wolves will only have a chance of finishing in the top six if they win all of their last three games, including this one.
We expect Wolves to be fully charged and ready to take the game to the Premier League leaders tonight.
#4 No Ruben Dias, John Stones or Nathan Ake for Manchester City
Having just one of your centre-backs fit during the run-in is quite a tough situation to be in for any coach. Pep Guardiola would like to brush it aside by pointing at the kind of talent Manchester City have all across the pitch. But the fact of the matter is that the heart of City's defence is currently vulnerable.
In the absence of Ruben Dias, John Stones and possibly Nathan Ake, Manchester City will need to rely on Fernandinho to step in alongside Aymeric Laporte. While the Brazilian is capable of putting in a shift, it's not his natural position and that could prove to be a problem.
#3 Wolves are a very resolute defensive unit
Wolves can be a really difficult side to break down on their day. The likes of Willy Boly, Conor Coady and Roman Saiss, who are most likely to start against City, all have plenty of experience playing in their back-three.
Wolves have the fourth-best defensive record in the Premier League this season. They've conceded just 35 goals all season. City have been in freescoring form of late and have won their last four games with a combined scoreline of 17-1. But they will be up against a much more solid defensive unit than any of the last four teams they've faced in the Premier League.
#2 Wolves' midfield can go toe-to-toe against Manchester City
Speaking to the press after their 5-0 win over Newcastle United last weekend, Pep Guardiola labeled the game against Wolves a 'cup final'. He went on to list the reasons why he believes Wolves can be a difficult side to face. Guardiola said (via Birmingham Mail):
"It’s not just about the last result, but they were really good at Stamford Bridge. Wolves, since they were promoted to the Premier League, is one of the toughest opponents we have faced.
"For many reasons; (Pedro) Neto is back, (Raul) Jimenez is always dangerous, the transitions of (Leander) Dendoncker, the quality from (Joao) Moutinho and (Ruben) Neves, the switches of play and the counter-plays, the personality, the competitiveness, the back five that’s had many years playing this system."
Guardiola is aware of how good Leander Dendoncker, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves can be in midfield. Both Moutinho and Neves are excellent technicians capable of dictating play from deep, and Dendoncker's industrious presence adds a lot of bite as well.
Against Wolves, the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva will have their work cut out in defensive transitions. They simply cannot afford to attack with abandon tonight.
#1 Wolves played some really good football against Chelsea
Last weekend, Wolves came back from 2-0 down to make it 2-2 against Chelsea. They showed a lot of character and their captain Conor Coady scored a last-minute equalizer to share the spoils with the Blues at Stamford Bridge.
Wolves played some very good football, particularly in the last half an hour against the Blues. They snapped a three-game losing streak with the draw and will be desperate to build on it as they host Manchester City.
If they can play against Manchester City like they did in the last 30 minutes against Chelsea, then Wolves have a real chance of scuppering Guardiola's plans.