LIVERPOOL host Merseyside rivals Everton on Sunday in the FA Cup 3rd Round. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets.
A lot of people have derided the big sides for fielding understrength teams in the much loved FA Cup. For all that moaning, incredibly 24 of the past 26 winners of the inaugural trophy have been from what is commonly known as the Big Six.
Only Portsmouth and Wigan have upset the applecart over the past quarter of a century so it's little surprise that the major players mix up their matchday squad as it's proved fruitful for most in previous campaigns.
I'm sure Jurgen Klopp would've loved the opportunity to give his big guns a rest as they mount their seemingly unstoppable tilt at a much sought-after premier league title. However, injuries have bitten over the past month or so and the charismatic German has been quoted in his pre-match press conference saying “How can I rotate?”, and he's got a point.
The majority of his first choice XI are fit but they played on Thursday night in the 2-0 home victory over Sheffield United, it's the fringe players who are currently not 100% fit. Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Clyne are all doubts ahead of Sunday afternoon.
Liverpool fans will no doubt be excited to see a probable debut for Japanese international Takumi Minamino, who put pen to paper last week to sign in a cut price deal from Salzburg. He looks a perfect addition for the Reds, he's full of running but is great with the ball at his feet in high tempo football. Salzburg play in a similar style to Liverpool with the intense high press and fluid movement up front, i'd be very surprised if Minamino isn't a success on Merseyside.
If Klopp takes the whole of the front three out then it could be him and Harvey Elliot flanking Divock Origi. Curtis Jones could start in midfield with Adam Lallana and one other and there's little options if he wants to change the defence but they weren't at all stretched by the Blades on Thursday.
Without knowing for sure what the team will be I cant recommend backing one team in particular, however a draw would mean yet another game for Liverpool and they surely won't want that. The Reds have drifted like a barge and are now odds-against at the time of writing. Y
ou do have to factor in that this is a new look Everton though, under Carlo Ancelotti. The Toffees look a far cry from the side that were annihilated 5-2 in the league game at Anfield that was a rather large nail in Marco Silva's coffin.
Ancelotti coming in is a real coup for Everton, his CV is impeccable and there was simply no one better on the market. His calming assurance will give off good vibes but the players are going to have the utmost respect for him given his standing in the game. They have won two and lost one (a tight defeat against Man City) since he stepped foot into Goodison Park and he's built on the bounce provided by Duncan Ferguson.
The Italian seems to have revitalised Dominic Calvert-Lewin who now looks to be reaching his potential. He may be rested here with Moise Kean likely to start, the Italian hasn't settled into life yet at Everton but the former Real Madrid gaffer is one of the best when it comes to handling egos and he should get the best out of him.
It's always tough when managers don't give much away to know how motivated a side is or who they are going to start with. If Liverpool play their first team then the 11/10 on them will look huge, but there's no guarantee. They could start half a team of kids then the betting would be much tighter. For that reason i'm happy to swerve the match result market.
It is a derby game after all and it could get feisty. Everton are one of the more card heavy teams this season, whilst the players coming in for Liverpool will have a point to prove. Jon Moss has the whistle and he's been a decent thing for card backers.
One player that stands out for a card at the prices is Adam Lallana who is 13/2 with SkyBet to be cautioned. He was recently booked against Wolves when playing a central position and with the absence of Fabinho he could be playing a deeper role here and if he is it's too big a price in a derby match.
I'd also take a look at the former Southampton man in the tackles market once that comes live on Coral. If you can get around even-money on 2 or more then take it.
Another angle I like comes in the passes market. Once again this does rely on this player starting, I wish I had the benefit of foresight but I don't so it may be worth waiting for an hour before kick-off. But if there's one position Liverpool can't really rotate it is centre half.
With Lovren and Matip out it would leave them with just Ki-Jana Hoever and Nat Phillips, both of whom are probably too inexperienced for a crunch derby. Throw in the fact that Liverpool do get a week off after this for the first time in ages and i'd expect Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez both to play.
If they do then it's got to be worth a look at passes. VVD has been set a line of 85+ passes completed at 11/10 whereas Gomez has been given a line of 65+ completed at 5/6 (SkyBet). I'm therefore much more inclined to take the latter as it's a generous line.
This bet would've landed in his last three games comfortably and with Everton happy to sit off (they had just 34% possession at the Etihad) it looks a fantastic bet should he start. I'm also happy to chuck in the 11/2 on 85+ completed passes for Gomez which has also landed in each of his last three as Liverpool look to dominate the ball.
One final bet I like the price on is Divock Origi to score anytime which has been quoted at a handsome 11/5 with Betway, he's half that price elsewhere! He should start and he loves playing against Everton.
The Belgian bagged a brace in that 5-2 demolition job and he's popped up with a few goals in past seasons against the Toffees including that late one-yard header after Jordan Pickford's blunder last season. He is a reliable deputy and i'm shocked we can get bigger than 2/1 on a central striker to score given the hosts imperious home record where they regularly score a minimum of two goals.