BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Liverpool should win a lively Anfield encounter 

Liverpool are the crown princes of Europe but Salzburg are the court jesters and the entertaining Austrians are quite capable of producing a few tricks to keep Jurgen Klopp on his toes at Anfield.

The Reds need to get three points on the board after beginning their Champions League defence with an undeserved 2-0 loss at Napoli, and ordinarily they could be fancied to go to town against Austrian opposition, especially at home.

But Salzburg are no ordinary opponents and while Liverpool should still be too strong for them, Jesse Marsch’s men can play their part in a belter.

There are goals whenever Salzburg play and this Group E encounter should be no different, though the reigning European champions still get the nod.

Salzburg, sponsored by Red Bull, have to be adventurous – it’s a genuine demand of the sponsors and something they expect from all their sporting franchises.

Living up to that expectation, Salzburg’s nine league games this term have averaged 5.4 goals with a series of results which include 7-2, 6-0 and 5-2 wins. They warmed up for their visit to Merseyside by coming from behind to win 4-1 at Austria Vienna ten days after opening their Champions League campaign with a 6-2 thrashing of Genk.

But they aren’t just a gimmicky side capable of battering modest opponents. They reached the Europa League semi-finals two seasons back and won matches against Leipzig (home and away), Brugge and Napoli on their way to the last 16 last year.

They are a young team, though seasoned internationals such as Andreas Ulmer and Zlatko Junuzovic add some maturity – and they are praying that Erling Braut Haaland, aka The Manchild, is fit to play after a virus.

The 6ft 4in 19-year-old son of ex-Manchester City man Alf-Inge Haaland, has scored 17 in ten matches this season, is an absolute beast and has formed an eye-catching partnership with another youngster, Malian teenager Sekou Koita.

Haaland did not play against Austria Vienna on Saturday and it didn’t seem to matter with Koita and Japan’s Masaya Okugawa demonstrating a high-class understanding.

Liverpool have produced one or two scratchy efforts this year – against Southampton, Chelsea and at Sheffield United on Saturday – and need to hit hard and early.

They will know that Salzburg can be opened up. Even Genk carved out six corners and ten efforts on goal during their humbling at the Red Bull Arena two weeks ago.

Sadio Mane scored 31 goals in 63 appearances for Salzburg from 2012-14, so he knows all about their approach, and Klopp has also acknowledged that while they are different, he’s well-versed in what they try to do.

Klopp also pointed out that his side have won 16 in a row in the league, are unbeaten in 14 at home in the Champions League and aren’t bad themselves.

Best bet
Liverpool to win & both teams to score

The Football Site

Like on Facebook

 

Match in Focus

20:00 TODAY SKY

Sheff Utd v Arsenal

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Arsenal have won five of their last six matches
Expert verdict
Some Arsenal supporters are not happy with Unai Emery’s tactics but the Gunners are third in the Premier League after eight matches and can maintain their upward trajectory by beating Sheffield United. The visitors have lost only one match in all competitions this season and should continue to improve with Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney both fit again after injury. They haven’t always been brilliant but Arsenal tend to get the job done. Sheffield United held firm for 70 minutes against Liverpool and have proved hard to break down, but they have lost four of their last five home matches in all competitions.