Old Trafford – Sunday 14го December at 13.30 on Sky Sports 1
Almost unbelievably Manchester United come into this North West Derby with the best form in the Premier League, having won their last five games in a row. Louis Van Gaal must be over the moon with the results but the performances have been well below what he demands and yet United have somehow managed to beat both Arsenal and Southampton away from home, on this run so far.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s shocking season sunk to another low in midweek as they were dumped out of the Champions League by Basel, in a 2-1 defeat at Anfield. The defeat means that they will drop down into the Europa League competition, which might be their best chance of securing a Champions League place for next season.
Brendan Rodgers side currently sit 9го in the table and although we are not yet halfway through the season, they have a real battle on their hands in the race for a top four finish. The most obvious and pressing issue is up front where the loss of both Luis Suarez to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge to injury, has understandably left the Reds short of top class, reliable goal scorers.
Rickie Lambert has finally been given his chance and looks to be the best option at the moment, with the enigma that is Mario Balotelli so far failing to deliver on any level and currently missing through injury as well.
United have also struggled with a long injury list so far this season, which might go some way to explaining why their performances have been average at best. This weekend Van Gaal will still be missing Rafael, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Angel Di Maria. But with Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata starting to click, United should score goals against anyone.
Liverpool might be low on confidence after their Champions League exit but this is the ideal game for them to come out fighting and they should not need any extra motivation from Rodgers to perform well. They are unbeaten in three league matches and did the double over United last season without conceding a goal, so it is not all bad news.
Despite current results, this should be a close game with the local rivalry driving each team forward at every opportunity. Since losing the first game of the season at home against Swansea, the Red Devils are unbeaten in seven home games. Liverpool on the other hand have lost four on the road, including all three against teams above them in the league.
This home and away form could prove crucial in the end and Manchester United should have enough to claim the three points, so the advised bet is to back Manchester United -0.75 at 2.07. Plus with 75% of United’s home games and 86% of Liverpool’s away games finishing over 2.5 goals, the price of Over 2.5 Goals at 1.90 looks a very solid value bet this weekend.