It’s a pretty special super Sunday in the Premier League as both Manchester and Merseyside clubs are in action. Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford in the afternoon kick off, as they look to close the gap on the top four. Meanwhile Manchester City visit Everton with the aim of consolidating their own position in the Champions League places. Both fixtures have plenty of history, and both ignite the enthusiasm for a huge day of football.
Jose Mourinho has overseen nine straight victories at the Red Devils, and there are quiet whispers that he has regained the club’s air of invincibility. Those claims will be severely put to the test against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side, which sits four places and five points above United in the Premier League table. The two teams played out a rather drab 0-0 draw at Anfield back in October, and fans of both clubs will be hoping for a more eventful encounter on Sunday afternoon.
Everton have started to show signs of revival under Ronald Koeman in recent weeks – notably since the 2-1 Goodison win over Arsenal. The Toffees are 7th in the table and a European challenge is on the horizon for the remainder of the season. The Blue half of Merseyside will give Pep Guardiola and City a rough ride as they look to derail the Citizen’s title challenge. Victories over West Ham, Burnley, and Hull have alternated with defeats to Leicester and Liverpool in the last five road games, and Guardiola may be finding the Premier League harder than expected. There are few harder places to go than Goodison Park, and his team will have to rise to the occasion if they hope to take all three points.
Everton v Manchester City
Manchester City have won on two of their last four visits here, with one draw and one Everton win – the last time they played at Goodison in the EFL Cup in January 2016. Everton’s home record this season stands at 5-4-1, with the only defeat coming in cruel fashion in injury time against Liverpool. Anyone looking to back City to win should bear this in mind.
Pep’s side have performed well on their travels, winning seven of ten matches on the road in the league, but they have been beaten on the other three occasions at Liverpool, Leicester and Spurs. Two of those defeats have come in the last five away matches, but the Citizen’s were imperious in their latest 5-0 thrashing of West Ham in the FA Cup. If they perform to those levels it will be hard for any team to live with them, but consistency hasn’t been a strong point for City and the defensive side of their game is cause for concern.
Looking at goals presents a much better picture. Everton have kept just two clean sheets in the last ten at Goodison Park, but they’ve only failed to score in two of those ten. They are good value to find the net against Manchester City’s defence, but are also liable to concede.
Manchester City have failed to score in three of their last ten away games, but those were against Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool. They’ve conceded in all but two of those ten road games – the matches at Hull and West Brom.
Three of Everton’s last five have exceeded 2.5 goals, as have four of City’s last five, so over 2.5 goals is the recommended bet.
Manchester United v Liverpool
Closer inspection of the Red Devils results suggest an air of caution about the true level of United’s ability. These are the teams they’ve beaten on a nine-game winning sequence: Hull, Reading, West Ham, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, West Brom, Crystal Palace, Spurs and Zorya (Europa League). Only Tottenham stand out as a top quality side. True, United can only beat the team put out in front of them, but it doesn’t inspire the idea of rushing in to back Manchester United to win.
Equally, it’s hard to make a case for a Liverpool victory on a ground where the Reds have just one win in ten meetings going back to 2010. Draws with Sunderland and Plymouth (FA Cup) were followed by a 1-0 defeat at Southampton in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi final, so Jurgen Klopp’s men don’t come into this in the best of form. Sadio Mane is also a big miss as he takes part in the Africa Cup of Nations. With Liverpool occupying 2nd and Manchester United 5th in the table, a draw may be much more acceptable to the likeable German manager, so it will be interesting to see if he sticks to the usual gung-ho approach.
The last two games between the long-time rivals have ended all square, and the value call is on another stalemate.
Everton v Manchester City – Over 2.5 Goals
Sunday 15th January, 13:30 GMT
Manchester United and Liverpool to Draw
Sunday 15th January, 16:00 GMT
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