The two most successful clubs in English football go head to head at Anfield on October 15th. United sit at the top of the table, separated from Manchester City only by goal difference, having dropped just 2 points in 7 games. Liverpool, under Kenny Dalglish, are looking to rediscover the form that made the Merseyside club Champions League regulars in previous seasons. This match however, represents a clash of two neighbouring football cities, and that rivalry ensures that form plays only a passing role in the unfolding drama.
Manchester United Dominate
Manchester United drew their last away fixture 1-1 at the Britannia Stadium, versus a stubborn Stoke side, who had themselves previously toppled Liverpool 1-0. That United draw represents the only dropped points for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side this campaign. The eye-catching 5-0 demolition of Bolton has been put into fractionally less impressive context after the dismal collapse of Wanderers, but the Red Devil’s goal scoring feats of 24 notched in 7 games, represents a daunting average for any opposition defence.
In 2010/11 however, it is worth noting that United drew 10 of their 19 away League games. It is an interesting statistic, and one which should cause some realism when assessing a fair value price for the Champions.
The Anfield revolution
Liverpool looked like strong contenders in 2011/12 until they were beaten at the Britannia Stadium and then humbled by Spurs at White Hart Lane. Liverpool fans will point to the dismissal of two players as a major part of the emphatic 4-0 reverse, but in truth, the Reds were being bettered in every department when both sides were at full strength. Kenny Dalglish will be pleased though, with the reaction to those two defeats. The response from his team has seen them win against Wolves and then away at Mersey rivals Everton.
The Reds are unrecognisable from the side which Roy Hodgson, and latterly, Fernando Torres left last season. There is a new unity, as well as the new front line of Saurez and Carroll, and Liverpool will feel they are on the right path to rediscover the former glory days, even if they are more realistically scrapping for a Champions League place, rather than for the title, in 2011/12.
It is a game where both sides might well be satisfied with a point. Normally, the home side will be looking for all 3, but there is no doubt that a draw would be seen as a point gained by Liverpool. As for the visitors, of course United go into each game looking to win, but they too will recognise the value of a point at Anfield.
So both teams might well settle for what they have if the scores are level in the later stages of the game. That being the case, any price over 3.4 (Or 3.55 on the exchanges after commission) would appear decent value. Roughly 29% of Premiership matches end in draws, so if the chances are slightly higher than normal, anything bigger than 3.4 should definitely be considered.
As for an outright win, United need to be 2.5 (6/4) or bigger to offer value. 40% is about right for the away win, so that is the minimum price required to ‘play’. Despite home advantage, any punt on Liverpool would need to be at 3.5 or more in my view.