Liverpool and Everton meet at Anfield in the lunchtime kick-off before City travel across Manchester to United in an explosive end to Sunday’s football fiesta.
Everton, with new boss Sam Allardyce in charge, recorded their third consecutive win – each with a clean sheet – in Cyprus on Thursday evening. 3 – 0 with a much-changed line-up, leaving the former England boss the chance to work with the first XI ahead of Sunday’s trip to Anfield.
Liverpool warmed up by hitting Spartak Moscow for seven as they confirmed their progress to the last sixteen of the Champions League. What a different fixture this will be compared to the one we would have seen a month ago.
The real intrigue is at Old Trafford. United somehow left Arsenal with a 3 – 1 victory last weekend, a rope-a-dope performance par excellence. CSKA rolled over in midweek, leaving Jose Mourinho happy with his week’s endeavours.
City’s steamroller just kept going. Their third consecutive 2 – 1 victory was the prelude to yet another…well, Shaktar’s 2 – 1 win was unexpected, to say the least. The question is, how will City respond to their first defeat?
LIVERPOOL vs. EVERTON
Liverpool: Bogdan, Clyne, Matip, Moreno (out)
Everton: Barkley, Bolasie, Coleman, Funes Mori, McCarthy, Stekelenberg (out); Baines (doubtful)
Form (Last six games)
Liverpool - WDDWWW
Everton - DLLWWW
Three consecutive wins changed the face of Everton; the gloom surrounding the post-Koeman era is lifting as they limp into the top half of the table. Nine points adrift of Liverpool, cutting that gap to six with their first win at Anfield in the 21st century.
It’s been eighteen years since Kevin Campbell’s fourth-minute goal separated the two sides and not even Francis Jeffers late dismissal could derail that victory. Sander Westerveld, Liverpool’s goalkeeper, saw red with Jeffers with sixteen minutes to go, Steven Gerrard joined him in the last minute of the ninety.
Things have moved on considerably since then, but Everton are still short of delivering on their promise. Last season’s 7th place finish ought to have ushered in a new period of growth, of challenging for the Champions League placings.
Instead a poorly constructed transfer strategy left them bereft of effective striker and it’s why they will struggle to score enough to win this fixture on Sunday. Liverpool’s defence is far from impregnable; Sevilla proved that.
However, Liverpool’s attack has been devastating. Mo Salah is the headline maker but Coutinho, Sane and Firmino helped themselves to a healthy share of the impressive 15 goals the Reds scored in the past three games.
The depth of their squad may yet be tested. Coutinho didn’t train on Friday and Mo Salah trained on his own, under the watchful eye of medical staff. Could the Reds be missing both their talisman?
Everton with three clean sheets in a row are less generous than the side which gifted Arsenal, Atalanta and Southampton 14 goals. A note of caution; Huddersfield hadn’t scored on their travels since the opening day, West Ham are in a worse mess than Everton and Apollon are, well, Apollon.
In other words, this may be a false dawn. The standard of opposition has given a false sense that things are better than they really are. This weekend will be a harsh dose of reality if our predicted scoreline of a 3 – 0 Liverpool win – 8/1 with bet365 – is realised.
|Last six meetings|
- Everton haven’t won in 15 Premier League away fixtures.
- Liverpool won 5 of their last 6 Premier League fixtures with at least a 3-goal margin.
- Everton haven’t won at Anfield in their last 19 visits.
- Liverpool have won 5 of their last 6 Premier League fixtures.
- Seven of Everton’s last eight games have featured +2.5 goals.
Current Match Odds (Best Priced Odds)
OUR RECOMMENDED BETS:
MANCHESTER UNITED vs. MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester United: Bailly, Carrick, Pogba (out); Jones, Matic, Fellaini, Zlatan (doubtful)
Manchester City: Mendy, Stones (out); Kompany, Delph, (doubtful)
Form (Last six games)
Manchester United - WLWWWW
Manchester City - WWWWWL
Who can stop Manchester City? Shaktar became the first team to do so this week in the Champions League. A meaningless match for City but is a genuine test of their abilities. How will they respond to defeat?
Manchester United would love to be the first English side to beat them. On so many levels there is needle in the match. Local rivalry, the natural antipathy between the two managers but most importantly, beating City would cut the gap to a less imposing five points. Defeat with an eleven-point gap to rub salt into the wounds, would all but end United’s unlikely title ambitions.
United’s injury list is the more daunting of the two. Eric Bailly is a key absence for the home side, as is Paul Pogba, serving a three-match domestic ban for dangerous play during last week’s win at Arsenal.
While the scoreline looks good, it was entirely down to Arsenal’s generous defending and David De Gea’s brilliance. One thing is for certain, if United’s defence offers up City 33 shots on goal, the scoreline will be the most embarrassing in Manchester United’s history.
In the Premier League, City are imperious but Shaktar offered a masterclass in how to get at Guardiola’s side. It was much-changed but in terms of how the Ukrainians attacked – mainly down the flanks – there is plenty of scope for others to copy. Once you get beyond City’s wing-backs, there is a genuine vulnerability to the back three, irrespective of the personnel.
Talk of ‘Invincibles’ is hyperbole; it’s almost impossible to see them going the season unbeaten. Almost, but not entirely.
At the moment, they are in good shape with injuries. However, the question mark over David Silva is solved with Pep Guardiola confirming he will play and add in a fully rested Kevin De Bruyne and the full majesty of City’s attacking options comes into view.
For all the talk of their vulnerabilities, there’s no doubt that City are the most impressive attacking force in the top flight. Top scorers, they can rescue a performance just when it seems they are wobbling.
City too beat Arsenal 3 – 1 but the Gunners had them on the ropes for much of the second half and it was only thanks to a horrendous misjudgement over an offside decision by the officials, that City were able to establish the decisive margin.
However, the variety and inventiveness of their attack was the root cause of it all. Arsenal’s impetuosity left gaps at the back and City were able to exploit them. The Gunners did the same to United last week less effectively but that is the warning Mourinho’s team must heed.
For that reason, and with the prospect of enjoying ending United’s 40-match unbeaten run at Old Trafford, I’m going for Manchester City to win 2 – 1, 17/2 with Betfair.
HEAD TO HEAD
|Last six meetings|
|27/04/2017||EPL||Man City||0-0||Man Utd|
|26/10/2016||FLC||Man Utd||1-0||Man City|
|10/09/2016||EPL||Man Utd||1-2||Man City|
|20/03/2016||EPL||Man City||0-1||Man Utd|
|25/10/2015||EPL||Man Utd||0-0||Man City|
|12/04/2015||EPL||Man Utd||4-2||Man City|
- Manchester City have won 13 straight in the Premier League.
- Manchester United have scored under 2.5 goals in 5 of their last 6 meetings with City.
- 7 of City’s last 8 Premier League games featured +2.5 goals.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 24 Premier League home games.
- Manchester United have kept a clean sheet against City in 5 of their last 6 matches.
CURRENT MATCH ODDS (BEST PRICED ODDS)
MY RECOMMENDED BETS
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (12:00 8th December 2017) and are subject to change.