City and Reds to share the spoils as battle for fourth spot heats up

Sunday – 3.00pm
THIS game could quite easily decide which team finishes fourth and takes the crucial final Champions League spot. Manchester City and Liverpool have been nip and tuck all season and a 10th home victory of the season for the host side would put them in a hugely strong position with a game in hand. Boylesports are best-priced about them finishing fourth at 6/4 with Liverpool a best priced 13/10.

Roberto Mancini’s side, along with Chelsea, are the only two teams in the league to be unbeaten at home and their form at Eastlands has been outstanding since the Italian joined. They have won their last six in a row, although it’s worth highlighting that their last five wins have been against bottom-half sides.

Liverpool are similarly strong at home at the moment, but it must be a concern for Rafa Benitez that his team have picked up just two points from their last three games at Arsenal, Wolves and Stoke. They pulled off an extraordinary win here last season, though, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 thanks to a last minute goal from Dirk Kuyt. Their record against City is actually very strong – they have gone nine games unbeaten and have only lost once in the last 13 meetings.

City are obviously a different proposition this season, but I haven’t been impressed by them in the last few weeks and it may be that the Carling Cup defeat against Manchester United has taken a lot out of them. The Champions League is now the primary objective for both of these clubs and they will be desperate not to lose on Sunday. The draw at 23/10 with Boylesports therefore looks the best option when considering both City’s home record and Liverpool’s dominance in recent meetings.

The Reds have kept a very tight ship in recent weeks, only conceding one goal in their last five Premier League matches. There have been less than three match goals in nine of their last 10 away games and the same is true in nine of their 11 trips to top-six sides since 2007/08. This fits nicely with’s analysis which shows that, since 2004/05, there have been fewer than three goals in 62 per cent of 103 games when top-six sides have hosted the Big Four.

It’s not just Liverpool who have been involved in low scoring games though – four of City’s last five across all competitions have produced two or less.

Match to be drawn at 23/10 with Boylesports
No goalscorer at 9/1 on Betdaq
Sell total match goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index

Tomorrow – 12.45pm Sky Sports 1
IT’s Merseyside against Manchester this weekend and the champions travel over to Goodison Park to take on Everton in tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off.

Both of these sides are in good nick at the moment with the Toffees winning their last four home league games, including victories against Chelsea and Man City, while Man United have won six of their last eight in the league.

Both sides were involved in tough European fixtures this week and their managers will be keen to make sure burn out doesn’t become a factor. This fixture was a 1-1 draw last season and it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see that scoreline repeated. David Moyes’ side have lost just once in their last 11 home and away and also just once in their last 12 at Goodison. They ended their recent hoodoo against the Big Four with the win against Chelsea being their first victory against a Big Four team in 24 games.

Sir Alex Ferguson will have been pleased with his side’s performance at the San Siro in midweek and they have now scored three or more goals in five of their last six games across all competitions. However, they were held to a draw at Villa Park recently and Goodison is an equally difficult place to go. With both sides’ recent record being so strong, the draw at 13/5 on Betdaq makes plenty of appeal.

The goals market is interesting especially with United being so prolific at the moment. However, they may find it more difficult to be so commanding against Everton, as eight of the Toffees’ last 10 home games have produced two or fewer goals. The same is true in seven of their 11 games hosting the Big Four since 2007/08, which fits in well with 11 of United’s last 16 trips to top-half, non-Big Four sides also seeing no more than two. I’ll therefore be selling goals at 2.6 with Sporting Index.

Match to be drawn at 13/5 on Betdaq
1-1 correct scoreline at 6/1 with Boylesports
Sell total match goals at 2.6 with Sporting Index

Sunday – 2.00pm Sky Sports 1
YOU don’t have to be a genius to work out why Aston Villa have been priced up as short as 1/3 with some bookmakers for their game against Burnley. The Clarets have still taken just one point from 13 games on the road and it’s hard to imagine them adding to that at Villa Park, where the hosts have recently performed well against Manchester United and Arsenal.

The only slight worry for Villa fans is that their side have drawn four of their last five league games, but that shouldn’t give them too many sleepless nights. Martin O’Neill’s men have won nine of their last 11 home games against bottom-six outfits and crucially for our bet, all of those have come by the HT / FT double result. They have also won six of their last eight at home against bottom-six sides without conceding.

Brian Laws has an almighty task for Burnley to avoid relegation and he will be desperate to put an end to their shocking away record. In the 12 defeats, the Clarets have lost nine by the HT / FT result and all of their last six without finding the net. When facing top-half sides on the road they have lost five of their six games by three or more goals, but it is worth pointing out that Villa have only scored four goals in their last eight league games – albeit half of those have been against the Big Four.

Aston Villa HT / FT at EVS on Betdaq
Aston Villa to win to nil at 11/8 general