Premier League Soccer: Man City vs Liverpool Predictions, Picks & Betting Preview

Roberto Firmino: Man City vs Liverpool PredictionsThe English Premier League’s top two sides collide in a potentially decisive encounter when Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday (3pm ET, 8pm GMT).

Man City are the reigning Premier League soccer champions and began the new campaign in a manner that suggested they were worthy favorites to lift the trophy again. However three defeats in their last five matches have seen them slip behind a Liverpool side in superb nick.

Liverpool are the Premier League’s only undefeated team and enjoy a seven-point advantage over City at the top of the table. Man City were once the clear, odds-on favorites with the major USA sports wagering sites to claim the title. Now, it is Liverpool who top that billing. Some statistics-based prediction models even rate their chances of winning it as high as 78 percent.

The percentages could swing wildly in either direction depending on the outcome of Thursday’s match. A Liverpool victory would give them a near unassailable 10-point lead at the top (although Newcastle did throw away a 12-point lead in 1995-96). A draw would see them remain strongly placed. A Manchester City victory would somewhat change the panorama.

That is, of course, the result that Pep Guardiola and his side will be seeking. They took a rather defensive approach in the 0-0 draw between the sides at Anfield earlier this season. The manager was perhaps concerned by the potency of an attack that had subjected them to three defeats in league and Champions League action during the second half of the previous campaign. Given the situation, they can be expected to be more proactive this time around.

City are still fearsome opponents. They are the Premier League’s top scorers, averaging 2.7 goals per match, and their defensive mechanisms are still largely functioning well. They have already defeated Manchester United at home and Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur on their travels. They have individually decisive players in the large majority of positions.

Weaknesses do exist. Lyon were able to take four points from them with a pair of bold displays in their Champions League encounters. They have struggled to exert their usual dominance over opponents in recent league matches, resulting in defeats away to Chelsea and Leicester and at home to Crystal Palace. When Fernandinho (now 33) is missing, they lack an equivalent steadying influence at the base of midfield.

If Liverpool have similar flaws, they haven’t yet been as apparent. They led the Premier League table on Christmas Day for the fourth time in the last decade. There is every reason to believe that this represents their best chance yet of ending of their long, quarter-century plus search for a 19th top-flight league title.

The way in which they comfortably swatted aside Arsenal in a 5-1 victory on Saturday displayed all the virtues of Jurgen Klopp’s team. They were relentless in recovering from Arsenal’s early opener, with a double from Roberto Firmino and further strikes from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah seeing them go in 4-1 up at the interval. Firmino completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after the break.

Liverpool’s attacking output has improved from last season, from 2.21 goals per match to 2.4 this time out, but it is in defence that the biggest improvements have been seen. Additional familiarity and the arrival of a highly competent goalkeeper in Allison have seen Liverpool concede an average of just 0.4 goals per match. Last season, they conceded one per match. The overall result is a team averaging a positive goal difference of two per match.

In any other season, such numbers would almost certainly be sufficient to claim the title, but Man City shifted the paradigm by averaging a positive goal difference of 2.08 per match in their record-breaking campaign last time around. From the start of the season, Klopp and his side have done everything they can individually and collectively to give Man City as little margin for error as possible. The result is the position ahead of Thursday’s match.

Our Betting Preview’s Man City vs. Liverpool Picks & Predictions Verdict

City could really do with taking all three points to cut the gap at the top to a more accessible four, but they have struggled to defeat Liverpool in the matches between the sides since Guardiola arrived in Manchester. In league and Champions League play, Man City have won just one of the seven encounters. Liverpool have won four.

The form of the two teams coming into this match also suggests Liverpool have a decent chance of coming away from the Etihad with another victory.

  • Bet on Liverpool to win @ best odds of +260 (that is 13/5, a little bigger than 5/2) with Bovada or Intertops.