Now, this is one way in which to reintroduce Premier League football to the masses after the international break. Without doubt one of the most passionate and fiercely-contested rivalries in football, Liverpool and Manchester United meet at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime in a game which means so much more than just three points.
There won’t be many games where United are available to back with the bookmakers at 2/1, and it is something of a surprise that they are here given Liverpool’s poor defensive record.
But that’s the beauty of bitter derbies: the formbook tends to get thrown out of the window, and the team that can handle the pressure of the big day tends to prosper.
So here are some facts, stats and trends to consider prior to placing your bets on Liverpool vs Manchester United this Saturday:
Quality Over Quantity
One of the standout features of the Premier League campaign in 2017/18 so far has been Liverpool’s vibrant attacking play. Jurgen Klopp is determined to find a way to field Phil Coutinho, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all in the same line-up; an ultra-attacking set-up if ever there was one.
And yet, for all their domination, the Reds simply have not found a way in which to put the ball in the net on a consistent basis. Their goal tally of 13 is dwarfed by United’s 21 – that’s supremacy of more than a goal per game extra in the Red Devils’ favour.
The crux of Liverpool’s problem is highlighted in red in the image below:
Liverpool are firing in plenty of shots on target, but they are only yielding 1.86 goals per game, which obviously isn’t bad but is not the level of domination we might expect. Contrast that to United’s figures, which show that even though they are recording fewer shots on target than their Merseyside rivals they are averaging a whopping 3.00 goals per game.
How is this possible? Simple: United are creating ‘better’ chances than Liverpool, i.e. ones with a higher Expected Goal number, and in Romelu Lukaku they have a world-class striker that can finish – the Reds, as much as Jurgen Klopp will eulogise about Roberto Firmino, do not possess one of those.
Klopp’s men are already seven points behind their Mancunian foe, and another good reason for that is highlighted in blue in the above image. There have been just seven gameweeks in the Premier League season, and yet already Liverpool have yielded seven more shots on target than United.
Worse still, look at the goals conceded count: 12-2 in the Red Devils’ favour. That clearly shows that more of the shots on target that Liverpool are yielding are ending up in the back of the net, which in contrast to the goals scored argument shows that a) they are defending poorly from front to back, and b) they need a better goalkeeper. It is unlikely that point A will have been rectified during the international break, and point B can’t be changed until the transfer window opens in January.
To continue the theme, Liverpool’s Expected Goal tally for the season so far reads 1.9 for, 1.7 against. United’s, meanwhile, reads 3.00-0.03. That is huge supremacy in the favour of Jose Mourinho’s side.
The Special One for the Special Occasion
Jose Mourinho is no stranger to managing against Liverpool: he’s overseen 25 encounters with the Reds in his two stints at Chelsea and now in his role as Manchester United impresario.
From parking the bus to getting stuck in, Mourinho has never been shy of a theory of how to stop Liverpool playing their natural game, and his record suggests he knows exactly how to get the better of the Reds:
- Record as Chelsea Boss (August 04-September 07): W7 D4 L5
- Record as Chelsea Boss (August 13-December 15): W4 D2 L1
- Record as Manchester United Boss (August 16-Present): W0 D2 L0
- Overall Record vs Liverpool: W11 D8 L6
So as you can see, Mourinho’s win ratio against Liverpool is excellent at 44%, and his ability to avoid defeat against the Reds is phenomenal at 76%.
As such, punters are advised that backing Manchester United to beat Liverpool at odds of 9/5, or the Draw No Bet option at 57/50, are both canny investments.