When can we expect bad runs to end? It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at some point in our lives, and it’s the integral question when choosing where to place your money when Liverpool face Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday. I shall talk you through the matters of these appalling streaks of form, your honour.
Exhibit A: The Citizens’ horrendous record at Liverpool. The blue half of Manchester has tasted victory on the red half of Merseyside just twice in Pep Guardiola’s lifetime, and not at all since May 2003. With Schmeichel, Anelka and Fowler in their side that day, City had a pretty good 1990’s team when they last won in L4.
Since then, it’s been five draws and 12 defeats. Considering City have won the league on three occasions in that time and have spent a fair few quid in doing so, it’s bizarre they haven’t won at Anfield. Paddy doesn’t think this is the year their barren run ends either.
The Reds at time of writing were narrow 6/4 favourites to win, while City are 13/8 and the draw is 5/2. While the visitors’ record is bad, losing their last six trips to Liverpool in a row, they rarely take a pasting (bar a 3-0 drubbing in 2016) and the matches are usually close. Nine of their 12 losses since their previous Anfield win have been by more than a single goal, and it’s very hard to see Jürgen Klopp’s team running riot on Sunday.
But it’s also hard to foresee them losing. Since Pep pitched up at the Etihad, Liverpool are the only team who remain unbeaten at home in league clashes among the Premier League’s big six. The Reds are also the stalemate specialists among the elite, with 10 from 22 matches in that period. I correctly predicted a draw for Liverpool at Stamford Bridge last week, and I’m forecasting a tie here too. What other bad runs could be due to end this weekend?
Exhibit B: Sergio Aguero can’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo when said cow is stood between the goal posts at Anfield. The Argentine hit man might well be Manchester City’s record goal scorer, but he hasn’t contributed a bean to his tally at Liverpool. In nine games for City and Atletico Madrid at Anfield, Aguero has mustered just 11 shots in total, and only three on target. As he usually averages around five shots every 90 minutes, that’s a bigger drop-off than Britain’s going to suffer after Brexit.
Exhibit C: Raheem Sterling is brilliant, except when he faces his former team. Ex-Red Raheem is two goals shy of 50 for City, and has found the net roughly once every three games for his current club. However, he is goal-less in seven games against Liverpool. The only side he has a worse record against is Manchester United – no goals in 11 games – so he’d certainly endear himself to the City faithful if he could end both of those bad runs pronto.
But will these particular poor streaks end on Super Sunday? Both players are performing in line with their expected goals in 2018/19, so aren’t due a goal in that sense, but players of that quality won’t stay impotent against the Reds forever. They’re also City’s top two scorers in the Premier League this term, so seem the obvious choices. Aguero and Sterling are evens and 21/10 respectively to score, or 4/1 and 7/1 to nail the opener. How about for Liverpool?
Exhibit D: Mohamed Salah is in crisis because the media says so. Now here is a player who is on a relatively poor run. You know, the kind of dreadful run of three goals in seven league games which most Premier League strikers would kill to have. Even so, Salah has had chances worth a total of almost six expected goals, so some poor suckers will take a beating soon enough. Huddersfield after the international break are the more likely victims, of course, but the Egyptian king has scored in all three games against City in 2018. He’s 11/10 to make it four in a row here.
Exhibit E: City haven’t scored at Liverpool too often in recent years. They may have bagged three (and still lost by a goal) when the clubs met at Anfield last January, but that was the only time they’ve troubled the scoreboard in their last four visits. So should we be betting ‘no’ in the both teams to score market? Klopp has made significant upgrades to his goalkeeper and centre-backs in 2018, after all.
But the formbook is on the side of a ‘yes’ bet here. Since the start of 2016/17 – Guardiola’s first season at City – both teams have scored in 15 of Liverpool’s 22 league matches against their fellow top clubs, which is the most of any team in the big six. It has occurred in 13 of City’s big clashes in that time, so bet on both teams to score at 1/2.
However, this match sees the two best attacks, two best defences and top two points tallies in the league over the last 12 months face off.
Anything could happen – Liverpool were dreadful in the 1-0 defeat at Napoli on Wednesday – so don’t blame me if I’m wrong. The game should be a cracker, but the bad runs mentioned here may tick over for another year yet.
*Prices correct at time of publishing