WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) rounds off 2016 with a preview of a game that boasts the potential to be the most goal-laden of the year. As Man City make the short trip to Liverpool in a title six-pointer, which way will this one go?
Liverpool v Man City | New Year's Eve 17:30 | BT Sport 1
We sign 2016 off with a Premier League thriller that will finish just five hours before the New Year.
Pep Guardiola takes his Manchester City team to Merseyside where a rampant Liverpool side await and goals are certainly promised.
These two teams are both the highest scorers in the league but also the ones with the most defensive question marks against them. Liverpool’s games average 3.67gpg (goals per game) whilst the Citizens matches are only slightly less hectic at 3.27gpg.
Indeed, most of those goals are scored by Liverpool and City, with the Reds bagging an average of 2.50 goals per-game and the Sky Blues; 2.17. But at the same time they leak far too many in their own nets.
Liverpool and City have both conceded more than a goal per-game so far this campaign and as many a good pundit will tell you, that’s just not good enough.
The age-old American cliché of ‘defences win Championships’ is bang on; it’s all well and good beating teams by three or four goal margins at home, but if you can’t defend well enough on the road to nick a game 1-0 you won’t win the league, and that’s why Chelsea are top.
Overall, all signs point towards a thoroughly enjoyable affair and I’m therefore looking straight towards an ambitious goals-based bet.
Two of the last 10 meetings between these two have seen Both Teams To Score In Both Halves and so that’s going straight in the book at 10/1 with Skybet.
Despite all their recent years of success in the Premier League, City have not won at Anfield in the league since 2003. The Reds home record reading W9-D4-L0 since that last defeat to a Nicholas Anelka brace. That’s quite strange given how sub-par Liverpool have been in many of those last 13 seasons.
In fact, Liverpool have won the last three and scored at least twice in all of their last four league games at Anfield against the Citizens and, now that they are a genuine force in the top-flight again, I think we can entrust them with our cash.
The hosts will certainly be without Philippe Coutinho and Joel Matip for this tie but Manchester City still have injury problems of their own; Vincent Kompany, Ilkay Gundogan are long-term but they are most likely to be without Leroy Sane and John Stones too, for this encounter.
Sergio Aguero returns after serving his four-match ban. At first sight that seems a huge boost to their chances, however, Aguero has a pretty poor record against the Reds for his standards.
‘Kun’ has scored plenty against Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester United and Tottenham but in 14 games against Liverpool he’s scored just four goals and his own personal record is W3-D5-L6.
The Sky Blues toiled for three quarters of the game at the KCOM Stadium on Boxing Day against bottom of the league Hull. They seem to turn it on for short periods of games but I worry that if they perform poorly for a long stretch against Liverpool, they’ll be punished.
Consequently, Jürgen Klopp’s side look a good wager at 27/20 with Bet365 to take all three points.