Manchester United v Liverpool
Sunday 14th December 13.30
Whilst many supporters were anticipating a title tilt under Louis Van Gaal the truth is that Man Utd will see Champions League qualification as a bonus from this campaign.
That said, the Red Devils can’t blame their home form for their below-par league position. They’ve turned Old Trafford into the kind of fortress it used to be, and they’re currently enjoying a five game unbeaten stretch on home soil (W-D-W-W-W).
Liverpool meanwhile have experienced a pretty heavy dose of travel sickness so far this season, with their away form looking dodgier than your mum’s brussel sprouts. A return of L-W-L-L-W tells its own tale, and the stats are even more enlightening….
As you’d expect with such a dominant home record Man United have got a very tidy goal margin of +1.2 at Old Trafford this season (avg. 2 for, 0.8 against). Contrast that to the Reds’ rather hideous looking -0.2 (avg. 1.7 for, 1.9 against). It’s Liverpool’s much-maligned defence that’s their main problem, and with Robin Van Persie starting to look hungry for goals again that Achilles heel could be about to be trodden on once again.
A quick glance at the two clubs’ respected Over 2.5 Goals records in 2014/15 also offers some good insight: Manchester United are at 75% and Liverpool an eye-popping 85.7%.
With all of this in mind, we predict the scoreline will be: Man Utd 2 v 1 Liverpool.
And for punters interested in the Time of First Goal market, well you’ll be pleased to know that Man Utd average the 30th minute and Liverpool the 34th, so there’s a nice window of opportunity to beat the bookies there.
It’s better not to expect miracles as far as the corners market is concerned. Despite both of these sides being attacking by nature, their dominance of possession doesn’t seem to translate into winning corners.
Man Utd – avg. corners for 6.1, avg. against 3.8.
Liverpool – avg. corners for 3.7, avg. against 6.4.
As you can see, the odds of these two returning Over 10.5 Corners on Sunday is slim.
The Cards market offers potential for some bookie bashing too. If we look at the stats so far we see that both teams have an unerring record in scoring Over 35.5 Points per game (Man Utd 87.5% and Liverpool 71.4%), and when you add in the extra spice of a feisty local derby that is rich in card history then you know what to do.
So lump on the Over 35.5 Point market.
Old Trafford is never short of goals to celebrate, and as we predict above they could have a few here to enjoy too. One man who loves a goal in a Man Utd v Liverpool derby is Evertonian Wayne Rooney, and he’s already bagged four on home soil those season. Take him from 9/2 (First or Last) to stick one in the old onion bag again on Sunday. We can also report that both Robin Van Persie and Juan Mata have been the Last Goalscorer on two separate occasions at home this season – and you can back the Dutchman from 9/2 and the Spaniard from 15/2 to have the last word in this game.
With Luis Suarez leaving for pastures new and Daniel Sturridge’s on going injury problems, it’s hard to see where the Liverpool goals are going to come from. One man that does have a decent goalscoring record in Mancunian-Scouse derbies though is Steven Gerrard, a man whose distaste for all things Manchester United is well-publicised. He bagged a brace in the last game these two met, and you can back him from 10/1 (First and Last) to repeat the trick here.
The stats tell us that Man Utd will triumph here, and the history of fixtures between the two suggests they will too. The pair have played seven times at Old Trafford since 2010 – five times in the league, once in the FA Cup and once in the Carling Cup (as it was then known).
And United have won six of those seven encounters – with Liverpool’s only win (in March’s league clash) coming in the dreaded ‘David Moyes Era’. In that game, Steven Gerard bagged two penalties and there was an astonishing 95 card points (seven yellows and one red).