Liverpool to march on
This fixture was often played to the tune of United top of the league and an inconsistent Liverpool seeking a win against their fierce rivals to revive their ailing season. How times have changed between England’s most successful clubs! Will the North-West derby go according to the formbook though?
It’s been quite a couple of weeks at Anfield. The last gasp nature of the victory in the Merseyside Derby was followed up with a win just as dramatic against Napoli to guarantee The Reds a place in the next round of Europe’s elite club competition.
Sandwiched between these two significant results, Jurgen Klopp’s men posted comfortable back-to-back away victories at Burnley and Bournemouth to stretch their winning run domestically to five and assume first place.
We’ve been here before with Liverpool of course. A first Premier League title somehow slipped away in 2014 despite holding a five point lead with two games to play. But, dare I say it, this title challenge feels different and carries more weight with each passing week.
Much of this is owed to a backline Liverpool can finally rely upon. The signings of Allison and van Dijk have helped bring a solid defensive backbone lacking for many a year. Six clean sheets from their seven home games with just one conceded, tells you everything about the impact they have had. Genuine title contenders they now are.
Last five in PL:
vs. Bournemouth (a) W 0-4 ✅
vs. Burnley (a) – W 1-3 ✅
vs. Everton (h) – W 1-0 ✅
vs. Watford (a) – W 0-3 ✅
vs. Fulham (h) – W 2-0 ✅
The days of United being considered genuine title winners are long gone. Four defeats from their opening twelve games, followed by a series of stuttering draws sees United closer to 17th than first place. Off the pace, out of sync and lacking any consistency, the contrast between the visitors and their hosts couldn’t be greater.
Even the weekend win over bottom side Fulham did little other than paper up the cracks. United returned to playing as they have the majority of the campaign against Valencia looking lethargic, stodgy and uninspired.
In fact, an injection of inspiration does sometimes greet this group as it did against Juventus and in coming back against Newcastle, Bournemouth and Southampton. But they can’t afford to start slow at Anfield. Only so many times can a team claw their way back into games and this one in particular could be beyond repair by half time should they persist with giving a team a headstart before they start to play.
The thing is though, is there anything to suggest this match won’t go the same way? There’s no pattern of play or sparkle about this group and with a defence all-at-sea up against Salah, Mane and Firminho, surely the gap between these two great rivals will only widen.
Last five in PL:
vs. Fulham (h) - W 4-1 ✅
vs. Arsenal (h) - D 2-2 ⭕
vs. Southampton (a) – D 2-2 ⭕
vs. Crystal Palace (h) – D 0-0 ⭕
vs. Man City (a) – L 3-1 ❌
Liverpool play with such authority and intensity, few teams are able to cope, not least one in as much turmoil as United are. United may raise their game, being a derby and all but it’s unlikely to be enough.
Nick’s tip: Liverpool to win @ best market odds of 4/7 (1.58) with Unibet.