Liverpool‘s march to a first Premier League title in 30 years is unlikely to be abated even if they do drop points against their traditional rivals Manchester United on Sunday (11:30 ET).
Liverpool have a 14-point advantage over second placed Man City after not only going undefeated through their first 21 matches of the campaign, but dropping just two points along the way. To cap it off, they also have a game in hand over their nearest challengers.
Jurgen Klopp’s side kept their impressive run going with a 1-0 win away to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. They had the better of the first half, and had already hit the post and had another effort well-saved before they went ahead through Roberto Firmino late into it. They then weathered a concerted attacking push from their hosts to claim all three points.
Liverpool have been a picture of efficiency this season, particularly in defence, where their record of just 14 goals conceded is comfortably the league’s best. When that is combined with the second-best attacking output, achieved through their front three of Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, it produces a potent winning formula. Their points tally to date represents the best-ever start to a top-flight campaign in any of Europe’s big five leagues.
Man City could certainly still apply a degree of pressure if they were to go on a similarly unprecedented run of victories themselves. Even in that circumstance, Liverpool could likely lose five or six matches, including their direct encounter with City in early April, and still be crowned champions. In the likelihood that they continue to accumulate points at a good rate, City’s record of 100 points in a Premier League season remains within reach.
It is not those ancillary records that are the real driver behind Liverpool’s quest for the title. After such a long wait, and despite intermediate success in Europe, including last year’s Champions League triumph, simply lifting the Premier League trophy is the primary objective. It would be an achievement to move them back to within one title of Manchester United at the head of the table of historical top-flight titles in England.
Given Man Utd’s situation, and how well-run Liverpool look at the moment, it is a mark that you’d perhaps fancy Liverpool to at least equal over the next few years. After 13 Premier League titles under Sir Alex Ferguson, United’s average finishing position since his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season has been fifth. That’s the position they again find themselves in this time around.
Champions League qualification is still in reach, with Chelsea just five points ahead of United in fourth, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are yet to put together a run of results that would suggest them capable of overcoming that deficit on their own merit. They have only twice recorded back-to-back victories this season, and never more than that.
Their main problem has been creating chances against some of the league’s lesser and more defensively minded teams, suffering defeats to nil to three of the bottom five and four of the bottom seven. Given Paul Pogba’s injury issues and apparent desire to depart, a creative attacking passer is a real need, but not necessarily one they’ll be able to address sufficiently in the January window.
Man Utd do look a pretty solid team defensively and that has been the foundation upon which their excellent record in matches against the top four has been built. Not only have they defeated Man City, Leicester and Chelsea, but they are also the only team to have taken a point off of Liverpool. That was from a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.
Can they repeat the trick on Sunday? The top online sportsbooks certainly don’t seem to think so. Liverpool are heavily odds-on favorites to take all three points and it is very difficult to formulate an attractive way of backing them to do so. In the circumstances, adding a margin of safety to the possibility of United grabbing a draw or win seems the best play here.
Our Preview’s Liverpool vs Man Utd Predictions & Picks Opinion
- Bet on Man Utd +1 goal on the handicap @ best odds of +150 (6/4) with 5Dimes.