Liverpool to compound bookies’ weekend nightmare
A massive weekend of Premier League action left bookmakers all over Britain licking their wounds, but things could get even more painful if Liverpool do the expected and beat Aston Villa on Monday night.
Punters have enjoyed an outstanding couple of days as Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City and Tottenham all justified favouritism and provided bettors with great returns.
Now, with only Martin O'Neill's misfiring Villans standing in the way of another mammoth payout, the betting industry is praying that a shock result can finally start lifting the doom and gloom.
The problem is, after witnessing their shocking performance away at Rapid Vienna last week, it appears an away win at Anfield may be beyond divine intervention.
Everyone seems to be in agreement that the losses of Martin Laursen and Gareth Barry have been devastating for O'Neill's team but a lack of firepower is also a cause for concern.
Emile Heskey has failed to make an impact since his big money move to Villa, Gabriel Agbonlahor is once again struggling for consistency and John Carew has too many fitness concerns, although he does have the talent when fit.
Carew, if he can overcome a virus, looks Villa's best bet to net at Anfield but 10/3 to score anytime, against a highly polished Liverpool defence, is not a price that invites me to invest.
More of interest for me is the 8/13 about the Reds keeping a second successive clean sheet.
Rafa Benitez's Liverpool hastily brushed off their disappointing 2-1 opening day defeat at White Hart Lane as they hit Stoke for four in mid-week, and they'll feel confident of racking up a few more in the 'goals for' column.
Torres and Gerrard are always going to be threats but watch out for Dirk Kuyt and Glen Johnson combining down the right flank, the latter of whom has been mightily impressive in the early stages of his Liverpool career.
Both players netted against the Potters and both could be great value to continue in their rich vein of form at 7/4 (Dirk Kuyt) and 7/1 (Glen Johnson) to score anytime.
Worryingly for both Villa and William Hill is that Anfield has guaranteed the home team a goal fest recently, with no fewer than the past six games having seen the Reds score at least three times.
More worryingly is that I have no confidence in Villa being able to stop themselves from becoming number seven on that growing list.
Carlos Cuellar and Curtis Davies are great centre backs in their own rights but, without the presence of a leader and dominant force such as Laursen, organisation against the likes of Fernando Torres could be disastrous.
It's a problem exacerbated by no genuine replacement for Barry as Nigel Reo-Coker and Steve Sidwell pale in comparison in a holding role - Steven Gerrard could have a field day.
Anyway, it may be stating the obvious but for the ninety minute market the only way to look is towards the 4/9 about a Reds win.
I have no doubt Villa will improve throughout this season but, for now, they look completely unprepared to stop another favourite from inflicting more pain on the bookies.