Despite losing the initiative in the Premier League title race, Liverpool are enjoying their best season since winning the title back in 1989. And while Man City’s fate is now mathematically in their own hands, they still trail the Reds by two points with a game in hand.
There is so little to choose between the two sides and having lost just a single game all season – away to City – Liverpool’s challenge shows no sign of relenting and makes this Sunday’s clash with Tottenham doubly crucial.
Since the turn of the year, Jurgen Klopp’s men have not been at their devastating best but they have still been collecting the points. Among some less-than-exhilarating performances they were able to find their best form for their win in the Champions League last-16 against Bayern Munich.
Spurs, meanwhile, threatened to join the party at one stage and were within four points of the leaders, but have slipped from contention. After picking up just one point from their last four league matches they are now fighting to retain their place in the top four.
TOP TIP! – Liverpool to win 1-0 @ 15/28.50+7507.507.50-0.13 / Mane as first goalscorer @ 11/26.50+5505.505.50-0.18
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The Reds’ current form is better than Spurs’ and they went into the recent international break back on top of the table thanks to a narrow, scrappy 2-1 win at Fulham, sealed by a late penalty from James Milner.
Anfield has proven to be something of a fortress for Liverpool and they are unbeaten there this season. They have recorded 13 wins, just two draws and scored a whopping 44 goals in the process.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will hope the three-week break (they didn’t have a game in the weekend before the international break) will see his players return to league action refreshed. The aforementioned run of three defeats in four was, however, interspersed with a fine two-legged win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16, which may well have come at the expense of their league form.
There’s still plenty for Spurs’ fans to look forward to though, aside from a Champions League quarter-final with Man City. The long-running problems around moving into the new stadium are about to come to an end, with next week’s home game against Crystal Palace scheduled to be their first one in their new home.
Whether this welcome news translates to a good performance at Anfield remains to be seen, but with just four points separating Spurs from sixth-placed Chelsea, this is one they really can’t afford to lose.
Pochettino will be hoping all his players return from the break fit and healthy because against a Liverpool attack that is full of goals, he desperately needs his best defence available.
Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sánchez will need to be at their very best to quell the triple threat of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firminho and Mo Salah. Anything less will surely mean a Liverpool win. On the flip side, Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dele Alli will cause problems for the Reds’ defence.
We don’t see this being a goal bonanza – there’s too much at stake – but Liverpool’s home form is such that it’s inconceivable they won’t create a few chances. We can see them taking one and it being enough for a narrow win, so the 1-0 on offer at 15/28.50+7507.507.50-0.13 from Bet365 looks well worth considering. We also happen to think Sadio Mane will get the goal 11/26.50+5505.505.50-0.18 with Bet365.
Manchester Utd v Watford – 30th March – 15:00 GMT
TOP TIP! – Man Utd & Watford to draw 2-2 @ 18/119.00+180018.0018.00-0.06 / Deeney as anytime scorer @ 10/34.33+3333.333.33-0.30
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes his seat in the United dugout on Saturday it will be as their full-time manager for the first time – he was awarded a three-year contract this week – ending months of speculation.
It’s news that will be well received in north London, with Spurs manager Maurizio Pochettino having been linked to the job incessantly since the departure of Jose Mourinho.
Solskjaer has transformed United since taking over as caretaker manager and has instilled a joie de vivre in his team’s play that has been missing since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. The three-year contract was no more than he deserved.
Interestingly, despite his blistering start to his United tenure, Solskjaer now needs to find a way to kickstart their season after two consecutive away defeats before the international break. The poor mini-run started with a 2-0 reverse at the Emirates in the Premier League – which saw the Gunners leapfrog them – and they went into the break off the back of a 2-1 defeat by Wolves in the FA Cup.
But they remain well and truly in the mix for a top four finish and Champions League qualification, and so this weekend’s home clash with Watford is a chance to get back on track and pile more pressure on Arsenal and Spurs.
Solkjaer does have injury problems to contend with though and the long injury list United had before the international break has been made worse. Romelu Lukaku picked up a foot injury in training and missed both of Belgium’s Euro 2020 qualifying games. He’s considered a doubt for Saturday’s game, and joins Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez as major worries for the weekend.
Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw also missed England’s qualifiers and may lack match fitness, but fitness issues are less of a concern for Watford manager Javi Gracia. The Hornets boss only has Jose Holebas unavailable for selection due to an ankle injury.
There’ll be a party atmosphere at Old Trafford on Saturday to welcome Solkjaer but, as is often the case in football, Watford will be looking to crash the party. Against the odds, we think Watford will play with freedom and come away with something, so we’re going out on a limb and going for 2-2 18/119.00+180018.0018.00-0.06 with Bet365. Also consider Watford’s veteran striker Troy Deeney as an ‘anytime goalscorer’ 10/34.33+3333.333.33-0.30 with Bet365.
Fulham v Manchester City – 30th March – 12:30 GMT
TOP TIP! – Man City to win 3-1 @ 11/112.00+110011.0011.00-0.09 / Aguero to score a hat-trick @ 8/19.00+8008.008.00-0.13
Saturday’s early kick-off pits second-placed City against relegation threatened Fulham and as expected the Citizens are odds-on to win this comfortably.
With a free-scoring front line that includes an in-form Sergio Aguero and a red-hot Raheem Sterling, it’s difficult to see a disjointed Fulham defence, which has conceded 70 goals, having enough to shut them out.
There’s no doubting that Scott Parker has the Cottagers more organised at the back but we simply can’t see Fulham having enough character and bottle to dig out a much-needed point. Especially if City score early, it could be a painful afternoon for the Craven Cottage faithful.
We can however see Fulham grabbing a goal – probably a consolation – but City will be in cruise control, so we’re going 4-1 14/115.00+140014.0014.00-0.07 at Bet365, with Raheem Sterling scoring twice, on offer with BetVictor at 7/24.50+3503.503.50-0.29.
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Carl is the original ‘Special One’ and uses his statistical knowledge of football to gain the upper hand over the bookies on a weekly basis. A student of odds and probabilities, ‘Wrighty’ pinpoints the value bets in the top leagues across Europe. A big signing for the SBO.net sports team, Carl brings his vast experience of playing the odds and beating the bookies to a weekly column highlighting the very best football bets.
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