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LIVERPOOL V MAN UNITED
This is the game that everyone has been looking forward to as Man United travel to Anfield three points clear at the top of the table from their rivals, though they’ll have to be at the very top of their game if they want to end Liverpool’s 67 games unbeaten home run in the league.
Amazingly, this is the first time since April 1997 that these two have gone head-to-head as a top of the table clash, and as a result, we’d expect this to be the fiercest Northwest derby in the post-Ferguson era. Man United ran out 3-1 winners at Anfield on that day on their way to lifting the title.
Derbies tend to be more ferocious affairs and with that comes an increase in bookings. Up until ‘Project Restart’, there has been an increase of 37.1% in the four big Premier League derbies (Merseyside, Manchester, North London and Northwest) since 2002/03.
This derby has seen an average of 48.97 booking points alone in the same time frame, though in truth that has tailed off massively in recent years as the rivalry has waned, which has largely coincided with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson from Old Trafford.
That 48.97 has dropped to just 30 over the last eight fixtures as there’s not been a single sending-off since the 2014/15 season.
While that would indicate it’s worth selling on the spread this time around, with both seemingly in a title race this year we wouldn’t be too sure, especially with the official in charge.
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Over 4.5 Bookings
Paul Tierney will take control of his first Northwest Derby this weekend and his record will have United fans the happier of the two.
In his last 10 matches officiating Man United, he’s awarded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men five penalties, while he’s not awarded Liverpool a single spot-kick in his last 14 games, and the only penalty he’s awarded this season has been against the Reds.
What’s more, he’s the only manager this season who is yet to officiate a game in which the home side has won (D6-L5). While we won’t read too much into his penalty count, his booking points should be worthy of note. His 47.65 booking points per game is second only to Stuart Attwell’s 50.55 so far this campaign going into the weekend, and with the expected elevated passion in comparison to recent years, we wouldn’t be surprised if Tierney were trigger happy with his cards once again here.
Solskjaer’s men will be coming into this with a lot of confidence having gone 11 games unbeaten in the league, though in truth their run has had very few challenges and they are yet to beat one of the traditional ‘Big Six’ sides or Leicester, going D3-L2 over that time.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have certainly gone off the boil compared to last year, though in truth they seemed to come unstuck after defeat to Watford last season, winning just 15 of their 28 matches dating back to that result.
The Reds are a different animal at Anfield though as their unbeaten streak confirms, though if there’s any time to play them and end that run, it’s now for United.
Liverpool And Man United To Draw
The Merseyside club have failed to win their last three league games for the first time since May 2018, while they also were held to the hour mark by Aston Villa’s youth team in the FA Cup last time out, so there are certainly some creases for the manager to iron out.
The one this that does go in the hosts' favour other than the venue is the head-to-head record, with United winning just one of the last 10 meetings across all competitions, while Liverpool have won this fixture in each of the last two seasons.
With very little to separate them, it’s not hard to see this one ending all square, as it has done in six of the last nine meetings, and while three of five meetings with big clubs this season have ended in a stalemate for United, only Brighton have played out more draws than the Champions Liverpool.
Liverpool And Man United To Draw At 11/4
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