A FLICKER of hope. That’s all Manchester United hang on to in their pursuit of a top four place and it will be finally extinguished should they lose to in-form Liverpool on Sunday. But win and United fans will dare to dream that this horror show of a campaign could yet have a happy ending.
The bookies give David Moyes’ men every chance, making them 6/4 favourites, after back-to-back Premier League wins – and clean sheets – against Crystal Palace and West Brom.
It is worth noting that those victories came on the road, however, where the Red Devils have fared better, away from the pressure cooker of Old Trafford. They have already clocked up four defeats at home – only once have they recorded more in the Premier League era, in the 2001-02 campaign when they ended up third, after notching up six. Tottenham, Newcastle, Everton and West Brom have all escaped with maximum points, so Liverpool will fancy their chances given the run they are on.
The Reds have won seven from nine, scoring 29 goals in the process, although they are far from watertight. They have let in 12 during that period and there is always the potential for their backline to undo the good work of their outstanding attack.
Liverpool won this season’s corresponding game 1-0, but United took the honours by the same scoreline when the sides met at Old Trafford in the Capital One Cup.
That was Liverpool’s sixth straight loss at United and they have only not lost once there in 11 meetings.
It really is a tough game to call and I think both teams’ desire to avoid defeat could be greater than their will to win.
Backing the draw appeals at 5/2 with Star Sports, therefore, and if it is to be the cagey encounter I’m expecting then a sell of total goals at 2.9 with Sporting Index is the way to go.
The north west derby is followed by the north London derby and this one looks more straightforward to call.
Arsenal go into the match as 6/4 favourites with Paddy Power and I am happy to overlook the fact that they have lost their last two top flight away games – at Stoke and Liverpool – due to them having collected 24 points from their previous 12 matches outside of the Emirates.
Spurs actually have the best away record in the division, with 29 points, but they cannot equal that at White Hart Lane where their 24-point haul matches Stoke.
Arsenal haven’t prevailed in N17 in the league since 2007 – when Emmanuel Adebayor netted twice in a 3-1 triumph – but they look ready to end that relatively barren sequence.
Spurs have struggled in their 10 games after Europa League ties, losing five times and drawing once, so the scheduling of last night’s clash with Benfica is unlikely to help matters.
One of those defeats came at the Emirates and Spurs have slipped up against West Ham (0-3), Newcastle (0-1) and Liverpool (0-5) at the Lane immediately after European assignments.
Man United and Liverpool to draw at 5/2 with Star Sports
Sell total goals in United v Liverpool at 2.9 with Sporting Index
Back Arsenal to beat Spurs at 6/4 with Paddy Power