League leaders Liverpool start the Premier League weekend rolling with a home game against bottom side Watford.
This match represents Nigel Pearson’s first game as the new Watford manager, and he’s sure to have his team wound up for the occasion. However, he couldn’t have picked a tougher task. Liverpool have won 24 of their last 25 league games, drawing the other, and haven’t lost at Anfield since April 2017.
That said, it’s entirely possible that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will decide to rest some of his key players given his team’s hectic playing schedule during December. He rested Bobby Firmino and Mo Salah for the Everton derby, Sadio Mane last weekend and needed to play his first choice side midweek to qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League.
The one area he can’t rest players is in the central defence due to injuries. That means Virgil van Dijk starts. The Dutch giant scored twice with his head two weeks ago against Brighton and did the same in this very fixture last year. He’s 10/1 to score a header today, and we’ll be on that.
The late game is a real relegation dogfight, Southampton versus West Ham. Third from bottom at home to fifth from bottom, with only one point separating the two sides.
The Saints looked dead and buried just over a month ago when losing 9-0 at home to Leicester, but they have responded positively to that thrashing by clinching a couple of key wins at home against Norwich and Watford. This game is just as important.
West Ham look dreadfully short of confidence. They surrendered the lead (and the points) in pretty abject fashion against Arsenal last time out, making it seven defeats in their last nine matches. It’s debatable how much more time Manuel Pellegrini has before the spark of a new manager is called for. A defeat here could be curtains.
Southampton striker Danny Ings has been the shining light for the home side this season, scoring 10 goals in 11 competitive appearances, including in his last five league matches. We’ll take him to continue this run, and take Paddy Power’s enhanced 11/2 that he scores first.
Liverpool/Watford: Van Dijk to score a header, 1 pt, at 10/1, SkyBet
Southampton/West Ham: Ings to score first, 1 pt, at 11/2, Paddy Power
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