Liverpool’s clash with Manchester City on Sunday afternoon (1.37pm KO, Sky Sports 1) see’s two of the three title challengers going toe-to-toe with just over a month of the season remaining. Brendan Rodgers’ side are in irresistible form, winning their last nine league games on the spin and going unbeaten in the top flight since December 29.
You can’t turn your nose up at City’s recent run either. Manuel Pellegrini’s men have won nine of their 12 league matches in 2014 and are odds-on to win their second Premier League crown.
It’s set to be tighter than Wayne Rooney’s waistband and with the title in the balance we look at the key trends to aid your betting in the ‘biggest game of the season so far’. That’s a statement Sky Sports roll out painfully frequently, but don’t mind the hyperbole and the slow-motion montages, because this time it’s actually true.
The unstoppable force hits the immovable object
Liverpool’s tactics of attacking fast, hard and early has worked a dream this season. In the last three months alone at Anfield, Everton (3-0), Arsenal (4-0) and Tottenham (2-0) have all been struggling by the time the referee blows the half-time whistle.
However Saturday might be slightly different. City don’t have Arsenal’s frightening mentality of collapsing like a cheap tent when the going gets tough, nor do they rack up as many defensive brain-farts as Tottenham do on a regular basis.
- Liverpool have scored first in 88 per cent of their games at Anfield, but Manchester City can boast about their record of scoring first in 75 per cent of their away games
- Liverpool have scored 67% of their 48 Anfield goals in the first half and more than a quarter of them came in the first 20 minutes of the game
- City have conceded just 4 goals in the first half away from home though – the best first half defensive away record in the league. City are the only side to have not conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes away from home this season with Sunderland’s Phil Bardsley the only man to break City’s away defence within the opening 20 minutes
If Liverpool score first, they will win
The Reds have made a habit of scoring first and winning games this season. If you’re dreaming of challenging for the title it’s not a bad habit to have either. In their 16 home games, they have scored first in 14 of them and gone on to win all 14.
That’s already pretty ominous for Vincent Kompany and co. but what is more concerning is City’s lack of bounce-back-ability away from home.
- Liverpool give sides just a 12 per cent chance of getting back on level terms at Anfield after they’ve scored the first goal, and City have just a 20 per cent chance of equalising once they’ve gone behind on the road this season
- On the flip-side if City take the lead, Pellegrini’s men give the opposition 47 per cent chance of drawing level on their own soil
- The Merseysiders have a 50 per cent chance of equalising at Anfield, but considering this is based on just two games it is almost meaningless. A lot like Daniel Bedingfield’s career
With that stat in your back pocket it’s a good omen for Liverpool fans that in the last 20 meetings with City at Anfield, Liverpool have taken the lead 70 per cent of the time. They have won 10, drawn three and lost just once when they have opened the scoring in those games.
In the six games City scored first in, they drew four times and lost twice. The sense of belief around L4 has just gone up another notch.
Back the game to explode in the second half
Liverpool’s fast start might be stifled by City in the opening half, but the trends suggest there should be no shortage of goals after the oranges.
- 79% of the goals City concede away from home come after the break
- Similarly 69% of the goals Liverpool concede at Anfield are in the second half
- In the last 20 meetings between Liverpool and City at Anfield there have been almost double the amount of goals in the second half than in the first. There were 22 first half goals in those games and 43 second half goals – That’s a 95% increase for anyone who doesn’t have an abacus handy
The 10/11 on there being more second half goals might be skimpier than Kim Kardashian’s latest red carpet outfit, but the chances of late drama are high. Potential title-deciding games are expected to be cagey to begin with, but this clash has all the makings of exploding in the second 45.
Steven Gerrard can lead by example
The Liverpool captain is excelling in his slightly deeper role but that hasn’t stopped him finding the onion bag. He has bagged 13 goals this season, and has only ever posted a bigger league tally once in his Liverpool career. Part of this is obviously down to the 10 penalties converted for his side this year and here-within lies a cheeky bit of value at Paddy’s expense.
Steven Gerrard is a 9/1 shot to open the scoring, but with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and possibly Sergio Aguero on the field punters might be more tempted by the 13/5 on offer that Stevie G scores at anytime. Liverpool are 13/2 to score a penalty however, and with 77 per cent of Gerrard’s goals coming form the spot, that might be a smarter way to eek out a few more pennies from Paddy’s back pocket.
Backing a Desmond isn’t a bad shout
Manchester City haven’t drawn 2-2 yet this season, but that could all change on Sunday. In recent times these two sides have played out a remarkable number of Desmonds and at 10/1 it might tempt punters in to back yet another one this weekend.
- Three of the last four meetings between the sides have ended 2-2
- Five of the last six head-to-heads at Anfield have finished all square – three of these five matches have been 2-2 draws
Based on the earlier trends, the HT/FT correct score of 0-0 at the break and 2-2 at full-time pays out at 90/1 which might not be the worst use for the 50p sitting in your back pocket.
- Put your money where your mouth is on this potential decider. All the latest odds are here: Desktop | Mobile