Are brand spanking new ‘Invincibles’ being formed in front of our very eyes? If Manchester City can avoid defeat at Anfield this weekend, the odds will certainly tumble on Pep Guardiola’s brilliant side emulating Arsenal’s famous class of 2003-04.
Our football odds expert Adrian Clarke looks ahead to Sunday’s stellar duel between in-form Liverpool and the outstanding Premier League leaders…
Liverpool v Manchester City (Sunday 14 January | 16:00)
If history plays a part in your pre-match thinking, I should make you aware that Manchester City don’t exactly love Anfield. Well, that’s a huge understatement actually. They despise it.
In a remarkable run that features four draws and ten defeats, they have not won away to Liverpool since 2003 – the same year Arsenal’s Invincibles began their own extraordinary 49-match unbeaten run.
Should City pick up three points at their bogey ground this Sunday, we might want to take it as a sign.
As with the majority of top six clashes this season, I do envisage another gun-slinging match to remember.
Pep Guardiola’s side will show no fear by playing to win in their usual swashbuckling manner, and with a superb record of their own at Anfield (they are unbeaten since April), I’d expect the Reds to trade blows in their customary assertive way.
The odds on over 2.5 goals are 12/25 for a reason.
As wonderful as Manchester City are – and I’m backing them to break the points and goals records en route to the title this season – this is the one fixture I make them underdogs.
We have seen a couple of cracks emerge in recent weeks, with performances against Bristol City, Crystal Palace and Newcastle United a little more laboured than usual.
HIGHLIGHTS of our first semi-final leg against @bcfctweets! #cityvbcfc
LONG: https://t.co/TjpF4ejsBd pic.twitter.com/t8viBWkhz2
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 11, 2018
And with the treatment room filling up day by day, I just wonder if this will turn out to be the best period of the campaign for opponents to try their luck against them.
I’d expect Liverpool to echo Bristol City’s bold approach in the Carabao Cup semi-final, by choosing to press and unsettle the leaders whenever it’s on to do so. That’s what they are good at.
From a tactical perspective, they are actually the best equipped of all Premier League teams to prevent Guardiola’s Barca-style possession game from functioning as smoothly as they wish.
Statistically, Liverpool turn the ball over inside the top two-thirds of the pitch more than anyone else in the division, and from those turnovers, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah can be deadly.
The irrepressible Salah is 31/20 to score anytime, with Mane (who was sent off in the last meeting between these two clubs) offering slightly more value at 43/20. Also, Grosvenor Sport is offering a price boost on Mane to score first, now at 9/1!
Driving in off the flanks I can see Liverpool’s wing pair giving the often under-used City rearguard kittens.
Although Sergio Aguero has his own Anfield curse to deal with, having never scored at the stadium, I would still expect the visitors register a goal.
While Virgil Van Dijk is a terrific signing; he alone can’t halt the City juggernaut. If you disagree with me, there’s a pretty attractive 19/4 available for a Liverpool clean sheet.
Getting ready for Sunday’s clash against @ManCity 👍
📷 View the full training gallery: https://t.co/otiVIxzbxM pic.twitter.com/yT3AApunQi
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 10, 2018
In the absence of Philippe Coutinho, I could be left with a splattering of egg on my face, but I do fancy a shock home win.
To my mind, this is the most likely afternoon of the season for Manchester City’s incredible run to end.
This Liverpool side has the talent and style to trouble the leaders.
My bet of the day
The bet of the day for me is 18/5 on Liverpool to win with both teams to score, and for those of you seeking a final score prediction, 2-1 is my choice at 19/2.
Whatever happens, make sure you tune in. It has all the makings of a classic.
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