On Sunday afternoon, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, Manchester United will look to bounce back after last weekend’s disappointing defeat, though welcoming high-flying Liverpool to Old Trafford doesn’t exactly present them with the perfect opportunity to do so (4.30pm). The visitors go in search of another away-day success.
The hosts come into this fixture after a classic comeback win against Italian outfit Atalanta in the week, which will no doubt have increased the confidence of Ole Solskjaer’s men, though their Premier League form remains below par. Last weekend, the Red Devils came up short against Leicester, conceding four goals en route to defeat, while they were unable to get the better of Everton when last in action on home soil. In fact, domestically, things haven’t been going well for a while, and their only recent wins have come on in Europe. They’re without a win in four in the domestic competitions, three of which they’ve lost. Improvement is certainly needed.
Both domestically and on the continent, Jurgen Klopp’s title challengers have thrived. They got the better of Atletico Madrid last time out, which is anything but easy to do, while their full array of attacking weapons were on show last weekend, as Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and the man dubbed by many as the best player in the world right now, Mohamed Salah, all got on the scoresheet against Watford.
Mixed bag at home
On their own patch, Sunday’s hosts have struggled to be consistent. Offensively, having scored ten goals in four matches, they’ve performed well, as you would expect given the attacking talent at the manager’s disposal. They’ve also had little problem creating chances, which again, is unsurprising. They’re the fourth-best team in the division currently when it comes to expected goals for at home. However, they have not always been in control of games at Old Trafford, and it’s often felt like they’re there for the taking, giving too much away at times, as they did against both Everton and Aston Villa. The efforts of Solskjaer’s side on those occasions doesn’t exactly point towards them making light work of a game against the hottest team in the league right now.
Imperious on the road
It’s very hard to criticise Liverpool’s early-season efforts on the road. Sunday’s visitors have won three and drawn one, claiming the joint-most travelling points in the league, while they are the highest scorers, by far, with 14 goals. An expected goals for tally of 12.5 shows that they’ve also been the most creative team league away from the comforts of home, which doesn’t exactly bode well for the United supporters, who’ve seen their team give away no shortage of scoring opportunities in recent weeks.
Injuries to key players
Since returning to the fold, Marcus Rashford has been an important part of Manchester United’s attacking play, though the England international is likely to miss out on Sunday, following an injury picked up on Wednesday evening. More worrying for the hosts is the possible absence of playmaker extraordinaire Bruno Fernandes, who ever since arriving at Old Trafford, has pulled the strings. Without those two players, United’s offensive threat diminishes considerably. In contrast, the visitors have each of their key attacking players not only raring to go but in hot form following a string of excellent displays.
Where’s the bet?
Given what we’ve seen from the pair of late, the visitors make lots of appeal at the prices. Even as the away team, odds of 13/10 look on the generous side. Klopp’s men arrive here in fine form, their tails are up, they’ve been scoring for fun, while they have the bonus of not having to sweat on the fitness of key players.
Moreover, if we boil it down to the numbers, the visitors simply impress more than the hosts. While United have a modest average expected goal difference of +0.14 this season, Liverpool boast an xG difference of +1.62, which is the best in the league. Where the hosts are averaging 1.51 xG for per 90 minutes, the visitors average 2.68. Whichever way we look at it, it’s Klopp’s men that come out looking by far the better team and that is fancied to be played out on the pitch when the pair clash on Sunday afternoon.
Mane to make the difference
Much of the attention of late has been on the wonderous Mohamed Salah, whose been scoring high-class goal after high-class goal, but we shouldn’t forget his partner in crime Sadio Mane, who has hit some strong form of his own, and at the prices, it is the Senegal international who looks the best bet for a goal on Sunday.
Five goals in eight Premier League games represents a very impressive return, but it’s the fact that he’s averaging no less than 0.72 expected goals for per 90 minutes that impresses the most. Such a stat is impossible to ignore, and it shows that the dynamic forward is rarely going without chances, so don’t be shy in lapping up the 2/1 available on a Mane goal. So these are the betting tips for this preview:
- Liverpool to win @ 13/10 with Paddy Power, William Hill, BetVictor or Betfred.
- Sadio Mane to score at any time @ 9/5 with BetVictor.
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.