At the beginning of the season most bettors expected Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United to challenge for the title whilst Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool would fight for a top four finish, but recent events have seen the two great rivals switch places.
Liverpool’s four successive victories and Man United’s draw with Stoke City has left the home side in pole position to challenge Manchester City come May. Currently at 2.110*, Liverpool to win on Monday evening looks like the most valuable betting opportunity.
Man United have lost five of their last ten away league games whilst Liverpool have not lost at home since January.
This is only the second time that Mourinho has faced a top team as Man United manager, and so it is difficult to predict how he will approach this match tactically. Traditionally - as we saw against Man City - he has used defensive tactics against similarly matched opposition (sitting with a deep back line and absorbing pressure before trying to nick a goal on the counter), but Swansea’s excellent first half display against Liverpool a fortnight ago showed that a more aggressive, high-pressing approach might be more fruitful.
Liverpool are less effective when their rhythm is disrupted high up the pitch, and so Mourinho’s stubbornness – it seems unlikely he will change tack – could be his downfall at Anfield. Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool last season saw Klopp’s team outrun and outfight Mourinho’s team. A similar story seems likely this weekend.
There have been 23 goals in the last six matches at Anfield (3.6 per game) and certainly Liverpool’s defensive vulnerabilities could be exposed by the counter-attacking speed of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. However, United have lost five of their last ten away league games whilst Liverpool have not lost at home since January. What’s more, Klopp has won three of his five matches against Mourinho and holds an aggregate 11-7 lead over the Portuguese boss.
A defeat for Man Utd will crank up the pressure on Mourinho, whose damaged reputation with the British press has ensured that any defeats are unfairly amplified. Knowing that they would be eight points behind the leaders should they lose, expect a cagey performance that ultimately plays into Klopp’s hands. If you believe in Mourinho to win against the odds, Man United is currently priced at 3.73*, with the draw available at 3.580*.
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