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Liverpool hope to continue big-six form against Manchester City as Tottenham look to halt Chelsea’s winning run

With an average of more than three goals a game at Anfield this season, the Reds have a good chance of victory at home against Pep Guardiola’s side

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 1:58pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 9:24pm

A couple of blockbusters straddle the turn of the year in the English Premier League, with Liverpool v Manchester City Sunday morning (Hong Kong time) and Tottenham v Chelsea next Wednesday night.

The Tottenham match is a potential stopping point for Chelsea’s winning run, which stands at 12 matches and counting, but by then it could have stretched to 13 with a home victory over Stoke on Saturday and their lead at the top might have grown further too.

If Chelsea win, their advantage will remain the same only if Liverpool – currently trailing by six points in second place – also record a home victory over City. Any other result combined with a Chelsea win would increase the lead to seven points or more.

Liverpool have a good chance of victory at Anfield, where they have compiled the third-best home record in the Premier League (behind Chelsea and Tottenham) with six wins and two draws in eight matches.

They are the highest home scorers at an average of more than three goals per game and their +18 goal difference is bettered only by Chelsea.

Another positive is that Juergen Klopp’s team have performed well in the mini-league of the big six this season.

They are the only unbeaten team in that category, with two wins and two draws, even though they have played just one of those games at home (the goalless draw with Manchester United).

City are unlikely to come with the negative set-up that infected the Liverpool-United match but a more open contest means they would have to match the high-octane performance of Klopp’s team. Pep Guardiola’s side are clearly capable of outstanding play but the reverses against Tottenham (2-0 away) and Chelsea (3-1 at home) were cautionary episodes.

City had plenty of chances in both games but ultimately lacked the resolution to take even a point.

That was a major issue when Guardiola took over in the summer and he has yet to prove he has solved the problem. Including the Premier League’s big six and the Champions League, City have played five away matches and won just one (the 2-1 win at United in early September).

The only time they really looked outclassed in a big away match was in the 4-0 defeat at Barcelona (and that was influenced by the sending-off of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo) but a lack of resilience has let them down.

One telltale sign is that City have not kept a clean sheet in any of those five away games against high-quality opposition, nor in any of their four matches (home or away) against big-six rivals in the Premier League.

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Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals look strong possibilities in Liverpool v City and at the odds Klopp’s team are a decent-value win bet.

They have won 12 out of 15 when scoring in the Premier League this season and could overwhelm the suspect City defence, as Leicester did in their 4-2 home win three weeks ago.

City have Sergio Aguero back from suspension but it is worth noting the league defeats against Tottenham and Chelsea came with him in the team and even his return might not be enough for them.

Relegation fears have led to managerial change at Crystal Palace and Swansea – two of the bottom four – and the situation might worsen for the Welsh club before they find a permanent successor to Bob Bradley.

Bournemouth are the visitors to the Liberty stadium tonight and they have reasonable prospects of a positive result against Swansea, who are in the hands of caretaker Alan Curtis, just as they were at this time last year. On the handicap Bournemouth rate the best bet in the Premier League.

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Southampton are an attractive home bet against West Brom. The two teams are closely matched on overall form but Southampton are unbeaten at home against teams below them and it is only their lack of goals that reduces confidence.

West Ham, who are getting back to last season’s form, rate the best of the longer-priced teams away to Leicester.

Easier opposition is a major reason for West Ham’s improvement, as they have beaten bottom-half teams in their last three games and their overall record against that calibre of opponent is won six, drawn two, lost none.

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Leicester fall into that category too and West Ham are worth considering on the handicap at least.

Looking ahead to Monday’s matches, Leicester rate a more attractive chance on the handicap away to Middlesbrough.

On Wednesday morning (Hong Kong time) Palace look set for a home win over Swansea in the big relegation clash.