By Dave Kelner
Last Updated: 16th January 2020
Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield this weekend and even though this clash doesn’t have the lustre of years gone by, with Manchester United not hitting the heights they have previously, it’s still very much the feature of the TV games.
More on that one shortly, but the weekend begins with a London derby at Vicarage Road.
Watford v Spurs
Many punters might be attracted to the odds against price on Spurs, but it’s well worth noting that Jose Mourinho’s side have yet to keep a clean sheet away from home in the league this season and his team selection against Liverpool last week was pretty negative. They’re struggling to find balance without Harry Kane and the midfield was bossed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum.
This will obviously be easier for Spurs, but they looked nervy against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and Watford’s form is stunning. Nigel Pearson is showing his managerial nous and to have dragged Watford out of the relegation zone in such a short period of time at the club is no mean feat.
Abdoulaye Doucouré is a powerful, cerebral central midfielder who’s destined to move to a bigger club in the summer – sorry Watford fans – and Troy Deeney is their leader, both on and off the pitch.
Deeney has scored four in his last five Premier League games, so I’d suggest striking while the iron’s hot and backing him to notch in this one.
Newcastle v Chelsea
Chelsea have been the definition of Jekyll and Hyde this season, as you would expect from a club in transition. The transfer ban has impacted them both positively and negatively. The main positive has been the exposure of some of their youngsters. Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have been given more opportunity than they would have otherwise and all three have impressed. The negative is that they haven’t got a deep squad, so when things are going badly, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea suffer.
At times they’ve looked like a match for anybody, however they’ve also been beaten by Southampton and Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge. Their inconsistencies mean that backing them at such a short price to go to St James’s Park and pick up three points is fraught with danger.
Newcastle aren’t in the same form they were around Christmas and their season is in danger of unravelling, with the injury list growing, but the price here is insulting. Miguel Almiron couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo early in the campaign, but now has three in three and the 11/2 on him scoring anytime is attractive, but I’m tempted to go the whole hog here and sprinkle a few quid on the Magpies.
Burnley v Leicester
This is an interesting one, because instinct suggests that the 16/5 for Burnley at Turf Moor against anyone other than Liverpool or Manchester City is too big a price, but they’ve lost four straight in the league and can’t score. So maybe it’s not.
That leaves us with a dilemma. Do you want to back Leicester City at odds on, following their defeat against Southampton? The answer is probably ‘no’.
So, how do you extract value? And when am I going to stop with this internal monologue? Those are the burning questions. The answer to the former, is by backing Vardy to score in a Leicester win. His pace will scare that Burnley back line and he’s due a goal. The answer to the latter is…. Now.
Liverpool v Manchester United
Jurgen Klopp has a surprisingly poor record against Manchester United. Here’s a stat from OPTA highlighting that record, which might make you think twice before taking such a short price about the Champions-elect; Among the 31 teams Jürgen Klopp has faced 10 or more times during his managerial career, his worst win ratio is against Manchester United (20% – P10 W2 D6 L2). And, let’s not forget that United are the only team to take points from them this season, too.
The problem with the above stat is that it doesn’t have that much bearing on the match this weekend, because United haven’t got the quality to go to Anfield and get a result, especially if Marcus Rashford is missing.
It’s a sad indictment of where United are right now that they’re so heavily reliant on Rashford. He is having an outstanding season and dovetails brilliantly with Anthony Martial, so his likely absence will have a major impact on proceedings.
One of the bets you could hang your hat on last season was Liverpool to win without conceding and that bet has now landed in their last five. It looks a shade short, but I wouldn’t put anyone off getting involved. I do expect a stubborn United performance, though, so I’ll put a correct score down here and go for Liverpool to maintain their winning run with a dominant, low scoring win.
Bet: Liverpool 1-0 @ 6/1