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Stuart Dalgleish 8th Jan 2011 - 21:06

Banker of the weekend

Manchester United v Liverpool betting preview - FA Cup third round Sunday 13:30 live on ITV1.

Stevenage have completed a famous win over Premier League Newcastle, and it has added to the list of shocks in what has been a fantastic weekend of FA Cup football so far.

Not that Liverpool beating Man Utd would ever be considered a shock, but you have to think that this match is where the surprising results will end, never before has there been such a gulf in class between these great rivals and I expect nothing other than a comprehensive home win.

The odds on that home success are 4/7, the draw is 3/1 while the now Roy Hodgson-less Liverpool are 9/2 shots.

I just think United are an absolute shoo-in, they've already defeated the Reds this season at Old Trafford anyway, they've lost just one out of 30 in all comps and are up against a Liverpool side that is completely devoid of confidence, ideas and fight, and they've lost eight times more than their rivals already this term.

Sure caretaker boss Kenny Dalglish (no relation to myself, I have an 'e' in my surname!) will give them a rousing pep talk, and remind them of glory days when he was firing them in against United on a regular basis but they're a million miles away from that now and will face a tough job this season to even claim a Europa League spot.

A good run in this competition would certainly help them get back into Europe, and they would love nothing more than to say to the rest of the world "we're still a force to be reckoned with" by knocking out Sir Alex Ferguson's team, but I just can't see how it's going to happen.

United could be without a few key players, such as Wayne Rooney (4/1 first goal) and Edwin van der Saar, but their new goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard could be ready to step in should the Dutchman not make it, and Dimitar Berbatov (4/1) loves scoring against Liverpool while Javier Hernandez (9/2) has proven he can cut it at this level so either of those would lead the line if Rooney doesn't prove his fitness.

If the Reds were missing Fernando Torres (13/2) or Steven Gerrard (9/1), would you be so confident in their back-up options?

That is Liverpool's biggest problem, yes Roy Hodgson has underperformed in his job and has suffered the consequences, but the squad that he inherited from Rafael Benitez was just terrible (not that Hodgson helped himself with bringing in people like Paul Konchesky, who's clearly not good enough to play for a club like Liverpool).

The Liverpool fans love the Spaniard and would welcome him back with open arms, but some of his signings were just bizarre. Alberto Aquilani? Why sign a player that's injured and you're not going to get his services for a couple of months, especially since he cost about £20 million, the mind boggles with that one.

Some of the other signings were just not up to the task either, and that is something that Dalglish needs to work on between now and the end of the season.

That's for another day though, first of all the Scottish legend needs to work out how he's going to stop another early exit from a cup competition this season, to go with their Carling Cup defeat to Northampton.

I think the one thing they should do is attack United, too often teams at Old Trafford just sit back and try soak up the pressure, well, no one is expecting Liverpool to win this game so why not go out on the front foot?

If they do they might just find some openings, after all, despite the fact they've only lost once this season I still don't think there's anything particularly special about this team, it's been emphasised by the goals they've let in against teams they really should be beating with their eyes shut.

Sadly, I don't think Liverpool will take it to their opponents and will end up paying the price, 2-1 to United is a 15/2 chance, but I think they'll want to really hurt them so would go with 3-1 at a cracking looking 14/1.



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