BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Liverpool to make light work of struggling Swans

Premier League
Sky Premier League & Main Event, 5.30pm

December is supposed to be a time for joy to the world and goodwill to all men, but those sentiments never seem to find their way to Swansea, where football managers are typically thrown to the wolves during the Christmas period.

Garry Monk, Bob Bradley and Paul Clement – three of the last four Swansea chiefs – have been sacked in December. Clement, the latest to be axed on the yuletide log, was punished after 12 defeats in 18 Premier League matches this season.

Caretaker boss Leon Britton managed to prevent the Swans suffering a 13th loss on Saturday, but a 1-1 home draw with Crystal Palace was hardly cause for celebration. The Welsh side are in strife and a trip to Anfield to face free-scoring Liverpool is the last thing they need.

Tea-time on Boxing Day is typically full of positives and negatives – the stench of brussels digestion is starting to clear, but mouths are growing ever drier through over-exposure to turkey flesh. For Swansea, though, positives are almost impossible to find and his could be a long afternoon.

Liverpool have scored 48 goals in their last 15 matches in all competitions, including seven in their last two, a 4-0 thrashing away at Bournemouth and a 3-3 draw at Arsenal.

Swansea have conceded eight goals in their last three games and have won only once away from home in the Premier League this season. That came at Palace when the Londoners were in disarray, so there is precious little for Swansea fans to cling to.

It must also be noted that Liverpool have had an extra day of rest since their last match. Fresh legs are rare over Christmas, but the Reds tackled Arsenal on Friday, while Swansea met Palace the following day. It is not a huge advantage for Liverpool, but, again, crumbs of comfort for Swansea are nowhere to be seen.

Maybe Britton can build belief from the fact Jordan Henderson will be missing the match. The Liverpool captain was forced off against Arsenal with a hamstring injury but the Merseysiders are well capable of shrugging off the setback with plenty of cover in that department.

Jurgen Klopp’s line-up is a guessing game with the German currently utilising a rotation policy. This is a must-win fixture, though, and a strong starting 11 can be expected.

Total football should overwhelm Swansea, no matter how much they flood the midfield but it is difficult to imagine Swansea coping with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and top scorer, Mo Salah.

Swansea won 3-2 at Anfield last season, but it was departed Spaniard Fernando Llorente who inspired that triumph and has since departed for Tottenham.

Punters should build their staking plan around a heavy home win, with an early breakthrough on the cards if Klopp starts with all his attacking gems.

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Match in Focus

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F Dusseldorf v B Leverkusen

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Fortuna Dusseldorf are averaging six shots on target per game in this season's Bundesliga
Expert verdict
Go for goals in the Rheinland derby with newly-promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf capable of making life tricky for Bayer Leverkusen. Fortuna had seven shots on target in last week's 0-0 draw at Stuttgart and have also beaten Hoffenheim 2-1 at home as well as forcing eight attempts at goal in a 1-1 draw at Leipzig which could quite easily have witnessed many more goals.