If you’ve only been glancing at Premier League headlines, it may surprise you to hear this…but Manchester United hasn’t lost a football match since over a month ago.
On November 11th, following a 2-1 victory over Juventus in UEFA Champions League play, the Red Devils lost to City 3-1. United’s lone tally came on an Anthony Martial penalty attempt in the 58th minute, and the Sky Blues roared at home with goals from Silva and Agüero. United was out-passed, out-classed and out-defended by the EPL front-runners for most of 90 minutes. It was the former club’s 4th Premier League loss of the young season.
Since then, Jose Mourinho’s squad has shown signs of turning things around. 1 goal in 2 follow-up matches against Crystal Palace and Young Boys didn’t seem to auger well, but the Red Devils didn’t lose either time. In early December, United played to an entertaining 2-2 draw with Arsenal after an own-goal was followed almost immediately with a tying tally from diminutive Three Lions midfielder Jesse Lingard.
Romelu Lukaku scored his 6th goal of the campaign in a 4-1 pounding of Fulham last Saturday.
It’s not as if the Red Devils are suddenly without any problems. Antonio Valencia has been in and out of the starting lineup, while Paul Pogba has often played as if he’s riding out the schedule and waiting for a new club or a new coach to come along.
You can’t argue with results, though. United is officially once again a hard club to beat. Whether the Red Devils can start winning enough matches to make a real run at the top of the EPL table is another matter…and will depend partially on how Liverpool performs at Anfield this Sunday when the iconic clubs meet for battle.
Liverpool’s moneyline is optimistic, with a (-175) payoff line compared to (+440) for United and (+295) for a draw in the 3-way market.
The goal spread at BetOnline is a straight (-1) for the favored Reds and not an Asian Handicap, because miracles do happen in this world.
Klopp, Stock and Barrel
Jürgen Klopp is a typical sort in the sense that he tends to caution supporters not to get too excited. “We’re not quite there yet,” “it’s a process” and so on. But as of late, those types of Klopp quotes are starting to ring a tad hollow to supporters…in a good way.
In the aftermath of City’s loss to Chelsea, the Reds are now the only Premier League squad without a loss in 2018-19. Allison’s goalkeeping is unquestionable, any backline featuring talent like Virgil van Dijk and Scottish National Team captain Andrew Robertson is a quality unit, and the midfielders do an outstanding job of feeding Salah and Robert Firmino the football at the front of the formation.
Salah may have had a slow start, but right now he’s hotter than anyone else in the lineup. Firmino has only scored a handful of goals in 20+ matches, but he’s happy to play a supporting role for a fabulous club. Sadio Mané remains a dangerous presence on the wing.
The past week’s action has only brought more triumph. Salah scored a strange kind of “unofficially” pure hat trick in a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, with a trio of tallies only interrupted via an own goal by the frustrated and beaten Cherries in the 68th minute.
On Tuesday, Liverpool notched a 1-0 win over Napoli to advance to the Champions League Round-of-16. You don’t need 2 guesses as to who scored the winner.
Still I wonder if all of the emotional highs will add up to a letdown for the Reds at some point. A level-headed manager like Klopp doesn’t want his squad to play 38 Matchdays and the entire UEFA schedule at a 200% fever-pitch of intensity. They’ve got whole seasons – as in Vivaldi’s seasons – to go before English football reaches a climax in the spring.
The last time Liverpool played a squad with elite talent up and down the roster, the Reds drew with City 0-0. That result followed a loss to Napoli at the start of October. November’s maiden match was a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in which Liverpool struggled to gain and keep possession of the ball.
Klopp’s squad might turn out to be the best in the Premier League. But they’re far from invincible.
I like Liverpool to play well and beat United in at least 3 out of 5 hypothetical meetings at Anfield. But do you know what I like more? A high-payoff moneyline pick.
An underdog with all kinds of talent, improving in form, and taken too lightly by the Premier League community (Pogba was trashed by opposing coach Gary Neville and ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on YouTube this week) is an especially solid weapon in the hands of the betting shark.
I’m leaning United’s way because everyone is laughing at them. Athletes read the news.
There’s a term for what can happen when an unbothered and unbeaten team floats into its own comfortable stadium to play a match it is favored heavily in. It’s called a trap.
At the same time, I’m not buying that De Gea is a better goalkeeper than Allison in the counterparts’ current circumstances. The United keeper hasn’t looked fully comfortable all season. Salah and Mané could capitalize on a steal and take over the attack at any point for Liverpool. If the Red Devils stake out to an early lead (I’ve got a hunch that they might) then Liverpool is likely to strike back in the 2nd half.
I’m sensing a 1-1 or 2-2 result. The betting value is on a moneyline draw bet, or on United against the spread.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.