Manchester City V Liverpool, Premier League, Etihad Stadium, 9th September 2017
Two of the season’s favourites for top-of-the-table success, Manchester City and Liverpool, meet at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday for what promises to be a thrilling encounter jam-packed with quality, especially in the respective attacking thirds of the pitch.
Despite the bravado surrounding the form and/or transfer business of both clubs, neither Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool nor Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have managed to sustain a 100% win record in the league so far this season with three games gone, but the early signs have been good for both sides. Liverpool have bounced back from their opening day draw at Watford to claim four successive victories in all competitions, qualifying for the Champions League group stages along the way by overcoming Hoffenheim, and then obliterating a sorry Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield last time out. That result continued Liverpool’s impressive record against top teams in the league under Klopp. Indeed, last season no other team claimed more points against the eventual Top-6 than the Reds. In comparison, City were much less successful against the big sides, and looking at clashes between these two teams last season, Liverpool claimed a win at Anfield by a goal to nil back in December, before the sides were locked in a 1-1 draw at the Etihad the last time they met in March, and a similar result here is to be expected. Going back further, it is six meetings since City last secured a win in this fixture, and Liverpool are undefeated at the Etihad in their last two visits.
Both sides have claimed seven points from their league games so far, but it is fair to say Liverpool have gathered many more positive headlines due to the nature of their win over Arsenal and their impressive progress in the Champions League. Manchester City needed a 97th minute winner from Raheem Sterling to overcome Bournemouth before the international break, and drew their only home game so far this season 1-1 with Everton. The mitigating circumstances in that match, however, were that City played the entire second half with 10 men after Kyle Walker was sent off.
Personnel-wise, the home team are sweating on the fitness of club captain Vincent Kompany (as they often are), while İlkay Gündoğan remains a long-term concern. Liverpool, meanwhile, continue to be without England internationals Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne, both of whom require a few more weeks of rehabilitation before a return can be considered.
Despite evidence suggesting Liverpool approach the game in better form, City remain firm bookmaker favourites, and that is to the advantage of smart bettors who appreciate the danger in backing against Liverpool in a big game such as this with Klopp at the helm. Liverpool are over 4.00 in some quarters to claim a win here, but using the handicap, more specifically Liverpool +1 on the European handicap, can still secure odds of as good as 2.00 with bet365, and is a great bet to take.
The bookies also expect goals, but recent history between these two sides urges caution here – last season there were only three goals scored in the two games played between these two teams. Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in their last two league appearances, and City have so far struggled in front of goal a little more than most would expect with the riches at their disposal. Backing under 2.5 goals here would get odds as high as 2.63 with 888sport and Unibet.
It’s hard to find value or sense in anything else betting-wise, so it’s better to sit back with these particular punts and enjoy what should be an intriguing encounter between two heavyweight contenders.
Under 2.5 – 2.63 88sport & Unibet
Liverpool +1 (European) – 2.00 bet365