Liverpool take on West Bromwich Albion on Saturday night, looking to bounce back from their unexpected defeat at Swansea on Monday night.
But, well, was it actually that unexpected?
The fact that the phrase ‘Typical Liverpool’ was trending on Twitter after the match suggests otherwise. It was the same old story for the Reds: defensive mistakes cost them, and they didn’t take their chances.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) September 27, 2017
So with less than a week to go until the real Groundhog Day, is there a chance of another upset? If so, Jürgen Klopp will have to brace himself for six more weeks of winter from Kopites.
West Brom are priced at 11/1 to win though, so Paddy obviously doesn’t think they will – and neither do I. But I certainly won’t be ruling out the possibility of a draw, which is available at 9/2.
I successfully tipped a 1-1 draw in last weekend’s Southampton against Tottenham match, and that was in part because it is the most common recent score line for both teams.
The same is true here – do all matches end 1-1 and nobody notices?
Both Liverpool and the Baggies have drawn four of their last 20 matches 1-1, and you can get odds of 9/1 that they will do so again on Saturday night.
West Brom have drawn 11 league matches this season, which is the most in the Premier League, and the Reds aren’t too far behind on eight. Finally, four of the last six meetings, including the one just six weeks ago, ended in a stalemate. I still think Liverpool will win, but there’s a lot of history pointing towards a draw being the outcome.
As are the omens. I tried to look up who the referee is for the match, and most of the search results told me VAR will be. But aside from Johnny 5 in a truck outside Anfield, the main ref will be Craig Pawson. His only previous Liverpool-West Brom match was, you guessed it, a draw.
A bet to avoid with Mr Pawson in town is the ‘penalty awarded’ market. The odds are only 23/10 anyway, but only one of the 12 current Premier League refs with at least 100 matches to his name points to the spot less frequently than he does.
Not that Liverpool would know who should take a penalty even if they got one. The Reds have missed five of their last nine (and are priced at 11/1 to miss one in this match), plus three of the four that were scored were taken by Milner and Coutinho, who won’t be playing.
The most likely player to score in the match is Mohamed Salah.
The king of Egypt is 3/1 to open the scoring, or 8/11 to net at any time. As he’s managed just one league goal fewer than West Bromwich Albion this season, it’s no wonder his prices are so skinny.
A longer priced player who might be worth a look is West Brom’s Salomon Rondon. He is available at 7/2 to score at some point during the match, or 11/1 to bag the first goal. He’s the type of hulking, awkward centre-forward Liverpool hate playing against. Or at least, they did – thanks to the acquisition of Virgil van Dijk, that’s one Groundhog Day Liverpool might be able to avoid.
WORTH HIS WEIGHT IN GOLD: Ahead of Virgil Van Dijk's Liverpool Premier League debut, we've erected a statue of him outside Anfield, as a to-scale representation of what £75million in gold looks like!
And unusually for footballer statues, it actually looks alright. pic.twitter.com/4lGzBZruTL
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) January 14, 2018
Rondon has only scored one of his last 37 shots in the league, and has missed four clear-cut chances along the way. Perhaps he’s just not very good, you never know. Another goal should be along for the Venezuelan before too long though, so watch this space.
Assuming Liverpool are far more likely to score though, a look at their form suggests a bet on them scoring in both halves is worth pondering.
The Reds have scored either side of their half-time oranges in 17 of their last 50 matches, and only Manchester City have done so more often in the Premier League this season. Liverpool are only available at 4/5 to do this, but whatever you do, ignore the 17/2 on offer that West Brom score in both halves.
The Baggies have found the net in both periods just four times in their last half century of matches, and have yet to do so on the road in the league in 2017/18.
With Liverpool’s impressive home defensive record (when not playing City), I’d be far more inclined to take a look at the 8/11 price that the Reds will keep a clean sheet.
I also think goals will be at a premium in this one. When it comes to playing matches with fewer than three goals in them, there’s only one side who can limit your entertainment more often than the Baggies.
Liverpool might be near the top of this table, but aside from their bonkers match with Man City, they have been fairly light on goals for the last few weeks. West Brom’s only hope in this game is to keep it tighter than Alan Pardew’s crush on himself, so I can’t see anything other than under 2.5 goals, which can be backed at 8/11.
If you’re pushing me for a specific prediction, I’ll say Liverpool to win 2-0, which is 6/1, or Liverpool to win to nil, at Evens. I suggested the latter of those bets in my preview of Liverpool’s third round match. This column is like that Bill Murray film where things keep repeating, what’s it called?