By William Hill
Last Updated: 2nd January 2020
The final match of the Premier League festive period sees runaway leaders Liverpool entertain Sheffield United at Anfield. Here’s our look at the best bets ahead of the encounter on Thursday evening.
2019 a tough year to follow for Klopp and Liverpool
2019 was a pretty much perfect year for Liverpool. A remarkable Champions League victory, which obviously included that memorable night against Barcelona where the Reds came from 3-0 down to reach the final, while they only lost one game in the Premier League. That came to the reigning league champions Manchester City, but given Pep Guardiola’s side are now 11 points behind Liverpool having played two games more, it’s not hard to see how much the balance of power has shifted.
Having won the Club World Cup in December, Jurgen Klopp’s side are the overwhelming 1/20 favourites to win their first title since 1990 and having won 17 in a row in the league at home, it’s unsurprising they are the strong 2/7 favourites here against Sheffield United.
Wilder’s Blades continue to impress
While Klopp looks a shoe-in for the manager of the year award, Chris Wilder surely can’t be far behind in second. The Englishman has masterminded an unbelievable Blades season so far, with the South Yorkshire club currently eighth in the Premier League table. Wilder has stuck to the methods that earned Sheffield United promotion and it’s pretty amazing, considering they were favourites for the drop, that they’ve lost just five league games so far this season.
Their brand of football might not be the prettiest, but the midfield three of Oliver Norwood, John Fleck and John Lundstram all know their jobs, while they are dangerous from set-pieces too. Lys Mousset is their top goalscorer with five goals and he is 11/5 to score anytime at Anfield.
Home shutout looks value
While Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are both very decent defenders in their own right, Liverpool haven’t been quite as watertight at the back as they were last season. However, since Joe Gomez has come back into the side, they’ve kept seven clean sheets in their last eight matches, with Monterrey in the semi-final of the Club World Cup the only side to breach their defence. The Reds are looking to keep five clean sheets in a row for the first time since 2007 and with their opponents on Thursday night not the most potent, their looks plenty of value in backing Klopp’ side to win to nil at 21/20.
Under 3.5 goals the way forward
Another bet which looks worth support is Liverpool to win and under 3.5 goals at 21/20. Only two of the Reds’ last eight matches have featured more than 3.5 goals: their 4-0 Boxing Day win at Leicester and a 5-0 Carabao Cup defeat at Aston Villa, where they played a side full of youngsters. The lack of goals is not a reflection of their ineptitude in front of goal, it’s more of a reflection of the more pragmatic approach they adopt when closing out matches.
Just two of their opponents’ 22 games this season have had more than 3.5 goals, so that odds-against price looks a good bet.