It’s the big one. First against second, defending champion versus leading challenger – Manchester City versus Liverpool.
Although we are only in early January, this is a game which has the capacity to be a title decider already.
Liverpool currently stand six points clear of Spurs and a further point ahead of City. Victory here would extend that lead by three. In other words, to be caught they would need to lose three times in 17 games when they wouldn’t have lost once in 21. And that’s assuming the chasers win all their remaining games. Defeat and the title race is back on.
All that said, it’s Manchester City that await the Reds, a team that turned last season’s Premier League into a cake walk and are currently favourites for the Champions League.
We at Lap of the Odds look back to the reverse fixture earlier this season, a tight goalless affair at Anfield. In our opinion City were the better side (even ignoring their late missed penalty), and look for them to make the running tonight. Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp talked this week about the early pressure City put his team under in the Champions League quarterfinal last year, and we expect something similar tonight.
With this in mind, we’re going to take City striker Sergio Aguero to score first. He has six goals in six games at the Eithad versus Liverpool, and we’ll go with SkyBet’s enhanced 9/2 that he opens the scoring tonight.
However, this open play could make City vulnerable to the counter attack and for them to win Fernandinho will have to play well. The defensive midfielder has been missing through injury for all of City’s recent defeats, coming back into the side last time out.
His absence has been noticed by players and pundits alike, and if the game becomes tight his qualities could shine. We’ll take a punt at a hefty price that he wins the man of the match award.
Aguero to score first, 1 pt, at 9/2, SkyBet
Fernandinho to win man of the match, 1 pt, at 14/1, William Hill
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