Liverpool host Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday in a 4:30pm kick-off at Anfield.
While it’s too early to brand any game “must win,” this clash does feel like one Jurgen Klopp’s side can ill afford to lose having only gained two points from their last three games.
A win against their rivals would see them reclaim top spot, though, while United can move six points clear of Liverpool at the Premier League summit with a victory. Man City remain title favourites due to their games in hand.
Liverpool are marginally odds-on 19/20 favourites to win beat United, with the draw and an away win both 11/4.
United have not been defeated away from home in the Premier League since they lost 2-0 to Liverpool almost a year ago to the day. Liverpool, meanwhile, are aiming to break Chelsea’s Premier League record 86-game home unbeaten run, currently standing on 67.
Something has to give then, right? Perhaps not, given that six of the last nine meetings between these sides have ended as draws.
Three of those stalemates were 0-0, but it’s a little hard to envisage recent history repeating itself tomorrow given that these are the league’s two highest goalscorers so far this season, yet neither rank in the top four tightest defences in terms of goals conceded.
I’ll leave goals and the result alone for the most part, at least until I’ve seen whether Joel Matip is starting for Liverpool, as the centre-back’s inclusion and fitness (or lack thereof) heavily impacts my outlook on the game.
What has drawn my eye is that Paul Tierney has been appointed as referee for this heavyweight clash, with the 40-year-old averaging 4.36 cards per game in his 11 PL games this season. Tierney has shown each team at least one card each in his last eight games, with seven of those eight matches also seeing 4+ cards shown overall.
I think he’ll probably try to be as lenient as he can in the first half, but with the amount of talent out there capable of winning fouls against aggressive opponents, cards seem inevitable.
Indeed, United have had 2+ cards in all six of their trips to Anfield since Klopp was appointed as Liverpool manager in October 2015, with 11 of Liverpool’s 17 opponents hitting that mark against them this season. United have reeived 2+ cards nine times themselves this season, with Tierney showing the away side 2+ cards in eight of his last nine matches. No brainer.
I’ll also back Liverpool to receive 1+ card given that Solskjaer’s side are likely to look to transition quickly, with their opponents receiving at least one or more card in 14 of their 17 games this season.
This still leaves us short of double-your-money territory, though, so I’ll also back Over 3 Cards for Both Teams Combined and Over 2 Corners for Liverpool. Klopp’s side have had three or more corners in 15 of their 17 games this season, and in all six of the German’s home matches against United:
Bet365 are offering their free in-play bet for this match (check your account for your amount), so if you’re looking for a bigger priced bet builder as a way of qualifying for the offer, BTTS 2+ cards each team & 5+ Liverpool corners is 4/1.
In terms of player cards, there’s plenty of candidates for the visitors, with Fred and Luke Shaw usually my choices. Sadio Mane is comfortably Liverpool’s most fouled player, though, so Aaron Wan-Bissaka or Eric Bailly may be worth a shout, while Bruno Fernandes is likely to get stuck into Thiago Alcantara and cause some mischief.
Liverpool are carded less frequently than any side in the league, but Mane is always pumped for big games which can see the forward cross the line on occasion, with Fabinho likely to find himself isolated against Marcus Rashford at times. Thiago was carded in his last start against Southampton, meanwhile, and was carded seven times for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season.
Personally, I’ll probably opt for Fred, Shaw and Fabinho at 28/1 (bet365), but will probably look to get Bailly and Thiago in one, too.
Sky Bet’s tackles market may be worth delving into, with Mane and Fernandes regularly making 2+ tackles this season (7/15 and 11/16 starts respectively), while Wan-Bissaka has made 4+ in six of his last seven starts and Fred has made 3+ in seven of his 11 starts this season. The four players combined at those lines should pay 7/1.
I’ll also have a stab at Mane and Fernandes 2+ tackles with Salah/Mane and Fernandes 2+ shots on target for a bit of fun at 33/1+. Salah, Mane and Fernandes each to have 2+ SOT looks decent value at 16/1 (Betfair).