Weblog: The football punter
Liverpool should see off powder-puff United
Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event, 4pm Sunday
Liverpool haven't won any of their last eight Premier League meetings with Manchester United but that trend is ancient history according to punters and bookmakers.
Jurgen Klopp's Reds are just 4-7 to defeat their rivals at Anfield and on the evidence of this season's performances and results they are rock-solid favourites.
Just 16 games into the season, Liverpool are 16 points ahead of United and they passed a tricky test in the Champions League on Tuesday night, beating Napoli 1-0 to book their place in the last 16.
That scoreline was emblematic of the Reds' improved defence this season and in seven league matches at Anfield only Cardiff's Callum Paterson has scored against the hosts.
Manchester United should have enjoyed an easier build-up to this fixture, having already qualified for the Champions League knockout stage before the midweek trip to Valencia.
However, not much has gone right for Jose Mourinho's men during a deeply frustrating campaign and so it proved on Wednesday.
They lost 2-1 to Los Che with another disjointed performance, missing the chance to leapfrog Juventus, who suffered a shock defeat to Young Boys, and win the group.
Both sides have injury problems at the back with Liverpool missing centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip and several United defenders requiring fitness tests.
But goalkeeper Alisson and centre-back colossus Virgil van Dijk are huge obstacles in the visitors' path and the best punting strategy may be to split stakes on 1-0 and 2-0 Liverpool victories.
The Reds' title rivals Manchester City were held to a 0-0 draw in October, although Liverpool were relieved to see Riyad Mahrez blaze a late penalty over the bar.
They have won to nil at Anfield against Everton, West Ham, Brighton, Southampton and Fulham and conceded only five goals in nine away games, including trips to Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea.
United have managed just three shots on target in their last three trips to Anfield – two goalless draws under Mourinho and a 1-0 win for Louis van Gaal in January 2016 – and few will be expecting a gung-ho approach from the visitors.
The Red Devils have struggled defensively all season and whoever ends up playing in front of David de Gea will face a testing afternoon against Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Mourinho may well opt to leave Paul Pogba on the bench again, hoping that a gritty midfield of Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini can disrupt the supply lines to Liverpool's front three.
But the chances are that Salah, who scored a hat-trick against Bournemouth last weekend before notching the only goal against Napoli, or one of his teammates will break through against a United side who have conceded 15 goals in eight away games in the league this term.
Backing a cagey start to the game could also be worth considering as Liverpool have let in just one first-half goal all season in the league. The 0-0 half-time score is a 12-5 chance.
And first-goalscorer punters may be tempted by the 25-1 about Van Dijk breaking the deadlock. The Dutchman is still waiting for his first club goal of the season but is getting into dangerous positions from set-pieces and scored in both of Holland's Nations League games against Germany.
Liverpool to win 1-0
Liverpool to win 2-0