Manchester City v Liverpool is unquestionably the game of the New Year Premier League fixtures and one that could ultimately define the title race. Liverpool have established themselves as the benchmark and victory at the Etihad for Klopp’s team will see them keep their unbeaten record intact and give them a 10-point lead over their title rivals. City have had a bad festive run with three losses, although they bounced back last time out with a 3-1 win over Southampton. So, with the stage set, Form Labs bring you their betting preview and tips for the game and don’t forget to take advantage of our comprehensive selection of enhanced odds for Manchester City v Liverpool.
Liverpool Installed As Title Favourites
Liverpool have been well and truly installed as title favourites after opening up a seven point lead over the reigning champions. They blew Arsenal away with a devastating performance by engaging with their usual high-press tactics, but while their 5-1 demolition job had the Kop purring, it’s a tall ask to repeat the trick against Pep Guardiola’s outfit even on current form.
Defence Has Been The Difference
Although Man City’s comparative weakness in defence has been rightly billed as the key difference between the two main title contenders, they and Chelsea still hold by far the next best backlines, as the 16 goals they’ve each shipped is still 14 fewer than the Gunners have let in.
However, with the Citizens having gone 10 fixtures without a clean sheet, it would be a real surprise if there was a recurrence of the goalless stalemate these two played out back in early October.
That’s especially the case as the Reds have netted at least three times in five of their last six matches, but though the temptation must be for Jurgen Klopp to send his charges out all guns blazing, that could well prove injudicious after Guardiola has seemingly wised up to the mistakes of past encounters.
In fact, prior to that last meeting, he’d gone W1-D1-L4 against Klopp’s Liverpool as a more pragmatic approach appeared anathema to the Spaniard – something which has cost his Bayern and City sides in Europe previously as teams have picked them off on the counter.
Man City Against The Big Six
Man City’s matches with fellow ‘Big Six’ teams have been more conservative in terms of output this season, with four of five such encounters featuring fewer than three goals, as only a Man Utd side shorn of confidence and belief under Jose Mourinho proved the exception.
However, Liverpool will fancy their chances down the flanks, especially the left-hand side where converted midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko is yet to convince as a full-back. Meanwhile, Kyle Walker has a history of leaving space in behind during his attacking forays, but while he’s seemingly been dropped in favour of Danilo, the Brazilian isn’t the greatest when caught one-on-one.
That could well see Mo Salah return from his recent central starting birth to the right flank, with the Egyptian and Sadio Mane able to exploit this weakness at the back for City with their pace – especially if the City wide men aren’t diligent in tracking back.
Manchester City v Liverpool Betting Tips
Given Liverpool’s current scintillating form, coupled with Man City’s stuttering at present, we couldn’t have the hosts at evens despite this game coming at the Etihad. Crystal Palace showed they can be beaten there just recently and with Liverpool remaining unbeaten this campaign, they look excellent value +0.5 on the Asian handicap.
Those weaknesses in the wide areas open up some space for betting potential in the goalscoring markets. Mane and Salah should be the most likely to profit, but the former is of course far less consistent than the latter, while it’s Zinchenko who is the real weak link that can be targeted.
Given Klopp will likely pack the midfield and return Salah out wide – especially as he can afford to be more conservative and accept a stalemate given the disparity in points – the Egyptian should be seeking to continue his rich vein of form.
He now has seven goals across his last six appearances across all competitions, including four from the two away fixtures during this spell. Further, he has three goals and two assists from five encounters with City since the start of last season, and has made a habit of grabbing the opener this term – something he’s done in eight of the 11 league matches in which he’s found the net.
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*odds subject to change.