The difference between the recent performance of Newcastle and Liverpool is so stark that one has to rate the Reds as the most attractive bet of the English Premier League round.
Newcastle fans who spent months campaigning against former Magpies manager Alan Pardew would have hit the local brew – Newcastle Brown Ale – after seeing Pardew’s Crystal Palace slaughter the Toon Army 5-1 at Selhurst Park last weekend. That made it back-to-back English Premier League thumpings for Newcastle and, if one acknowledges that the Magpies were extremely lucky not to receive a pasting from Bournemouth as well, they are fortunate not to have copped four hidings in their last five divisional matches, with their other result being a dismal 0-0 draw against Stoke at St James’ Park.
Opinions are divided as to the ability of Newcastle coach Steve McClaren and, even though he is a boss fighting for his standing in the sport, he seems incapable of inspiring the Magpies away from the foot of the English Premier League ladder. Newcastle is two points adrift of English Premier League safety and no top-flight team has leaked more goals.
Liverpool was heading for another disappointing season until the Reds owners decided to call time on Brendan Rodgers and lure Jurgen Klopp out of his sabbatical. Klopp has got the English media eating out of the palm of his hand and he has transformed Liverpool into – whisper it – an English Premier League title contender. Liverpool has won each of its last four games across all competitions, including a 6-1 English Capital One Cup victory at Southampton in which Divock Origi notched a hat-trick and Daniel Sturridge showed the skill of Klopp’s man-management strategies in bagging a brace. Six points is all that separates Liverpool from Leicester and Manchester City at the top of the English Premier League ladder and, remember, the Reds beat the latter 4-1 on the road two weeks ago. One is not writing off the chance of Liverpool winning its first-ever English Premier League crown and Klopp becoming an almost instant Reds legend.
Maybe the days of Liverpool being the best English friend of bookmakers is coming to an end. For the first time in a long time, Liverpool is entitled to be trading at fairly short odds for an English Premier League away assignment. Betfair are offering odds of -154 about a Liverpool win over Newcastle at St James’ Park on Sunday. Liverpool is on a roll and it does not have to concern itself with its UEFA Europa League Group B match at Sion before the Reds have booked their spot in the tournament’s knockout stage.
Stoke and Manchester City are two of the other three English Capital One semi-finalists and they will lock horns in the first game of the English Premier League round on Saturday.
The Mark Hughes version of Stoke is very different to the one that Tony Pulis built and, while the Potters are much easier on the eye these days, the English Premier League’s heavyweights do not find them as hard to handle because of their move away from long balls and physical tactics. For example, the last English Premier League meeting between Stoke and Manchester City ended in a 4-1 road win for the Citizens in which Sergio Aguero scored a couple of goals.
Manchester City has a midweek UEFA Champions League Group D home match versus Monchengladbach but the Citizens have made it through to the last 16 so they can afford to concentrate on their English Premier League task on Saturday. William Hill is listing Manchester City at odds of -143 to win at the Britannia Stadium and guarantee that it finishes the 15th round of English Premier League games as its leader.
Finally, having knocked the idea of backing Jamie Vardy to score against Manchester United in the 13rd English Premier League round, one is going to jump aboard the bandwagon and pick his Leicester side to defeat Swansea on the road.
Confidence is contagious and the belief coursing through the veins of every Leicester player is there for all to see. One fears for Swansea and, in particular, Swans boss Garry Monk because the Liberty Stadium team has beaten only Aston Villa in its last 10 English Premier League matches and scoring is proving problematic for it. One fancies Leicester to score in every English Premier League game that it plays and one Foxes goal may be sufficient to accrue three points on Saturday. Leicester rounds out one’s English Premier League punting portfolio at odds of +170 with BetVictor.
Liverpool to beat Newcastle
6th December 16:00 GMT
Man City to beat Stoke
5th December 12:45 GMT
Leicester to beat Swansea
5th December 15:00 GMT
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