Manchester City v Everton
Thursday January 14, 6:45am
These two sides are becoming pretty familiar with each other, having clashed in the League Cup last week in a tie Everton won 2-1 at home, with the second leg set to take place towards the end of this month. At 1-0 down at Vicarage Road in the 80th minute, it looked as if City’s winless run on the road might stretch to seven games but stalwarts Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero both found the net in a real smash and grab, though they were unable to continue the momentum in the cup against Everton, who were perhaps fortunate themselves to come away with a draw at home to Spurs in a highly entertaining affair with both sides intent on attack. Indeed, for all that the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, Gerard Delefoueu and John Stones have impressed this season, Everton are only 11th and have won just six of their 20 matches all season and will need to improve markedly if they’re to achieve European qualification.
While Man City have struggled on the road this season their home record remains excellent, reading W8-D0-L2 and W22-D3-L4 since the start of last term. Their defeats this season have come against West Ham, who’ve been excellent on the road to the top teams, and a rejuvenated Liverpool following Jurgen Klopp’s appointment. City’s home games have also been full of goals, with nine of 10 seeing at least three goals and half seeing at least four strikes. City have however failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight. Their record at home to middle-third sides since the start of last season is W9-D0-L3.
Everton have only lost once on the road this season (at Arsenal) but they have drawn half of their matches. Their away record against top-four sides since 2013/14 reads W0-D2-L8 as they failed to score in six of these games while six also had Under 2.5 Goals. However, in Lukaku Everton have undoubtedly the form striker in the division as he’s scored 10 goals in their last 10 games. Lukaku is a slight injury doubt for this game so it’s worth keeping an eye out for team news, but at the time of writing he looks set to win his fitness battle.
City have injury concerns of their own with both Eliaquim Mangala and Vincent Kompany out, with their struggles without their skipper this season being well-documented. With that duo starting, City have won 12 of 15 games since the start of last season, compared with a win percentage of only 56% in their other 43 games in that time. Summer signing Nicholas Otamendi has started seven home games this season and City are yet to keep a clean sheet in any of them and we expect that run to continue against Everton. Both teams to score is a 1.72 shot here and that looks long. However, City’s excellent home record coupled with Everton’s poor performance at the top teams recently means we still expect the home side to come out on top and the home team to win but concede looks the strongest bet in this one.
Liverpool v Arsenal
Thursday January 14, 7:00am
Liverpool have had a mixed start under Jurgen Klopp in the Premier League as they’ve beaten Chelsea, Man City and Leicester but lost against Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Watford and West Ham in their last game so the German will be hoping his side can start showing a bit more consistency and move up the table from eighth. Arsenal meanwhile are top of the league following five wins in their last six but they also went from the high of beating Man City at home to a 4-0 hammering at Southampton on Boxing Day. They’ve had a couple of lenient fixtures to recover from that shock defeat, beating Bournemouth and Newcastle at home and Wenger’s side have the best chance they’ve had for a long time of lifting their first league title since the Invincibles of 2003/04.
Since Klopp took over, Liverpool’s home record is W2-D2-L1 with that defeat against Palace, draws against Southampton and West Brom and 1-0 wins over Leicester and Swansea. Indeed, Liverpool have only won four of their 28 home games since the start of last season by more than one goal and their record against top-four sides in that time is W2-D1-L2 with victories over Leicester and Man City last season, a 2-2 draw against Arsenal, and a pair of 2-1 defeats against Chelsea and United. Liverpool netted in all these games and four saw at least three goals.
In addition to his customary defeat against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, Wenger’s Arsenal have suffered a couple of surprise defeats on the road at Southampton and West Brom. Their overall away record this season W6-D1-L3 as they’ve scored at least twice in half of these games and their last four away wins were all by at least two goals. Their record at top-six sides since the start of last season reads W2-D2-L3, with two of those three defeats against Chelsea and the other against Spurs last season. Arsenal have a decent W3-D2-L1 record at Anfield since 2009/10 with that defeat an unforgettable 5-1 in 2013/14 as Liverpool were 4-0 up inside 20 minutes.
Arsenal have had to do without Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez in recent weeks but the moving of Aaron Ramsey to his preferred central position has been a positive in the Spaniard’s absence and the return of Walcott has compensated to some extent for the loss of Sanchez’s. Liverpool’s injury situation is even worse with Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Phillippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge all out and skipper Jordan Henderson also still a doubt. Liverpool have only won four of the 16 games Henderson didn’t start since the start of last season and while their record in home games that he and Coutinho started in that time is W12-D4-L4, their record in the eight games they didn’t is W2-D4-L2, despite the fact that Southampton were the only top-half opposition they faced.
This will undoubtedly be Klopp’s biggest home test to date. In his last two seasons in Germany when hosting top-four sides he had a mediocre record of W1-D2-L4 as Dortmund failed to score in five of these games. Furthermore, Wenger’s already beaten Klopp away in the 2013/14 Champions League and we think a repeat could be on the cards here. Draw/Arsenal HT/FT might also be worth a punt at 7.2 as Liverpool have only trailed at half-time twice at home since the start of last season and been level at half-time in their five home games under Klopp. Arsenal have been level at half-time in six of their 10 away matches this season.