The big game of the weekend is Liverpool’s home game with Manchester United. Can Jurgen Klopp’s side extend their unbeaten run in the league to 39 as their cruise towards their first ever Premier League title? Or can United spring a surprise at Anfield? Meanwhile at the bottom of the table, Norwich (20th) host Bournemouth (19th) at Carrow Road in a relegation battle. There are plenty of top-quality games taking place this weekend and Charlie Mullan has assessed all this weekend’s fixtures highlighting some which could be worth considering when putting accumulators together.
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BTTS: Southampton v Wolves, Birmingham v Cardiff, Crewe v Cheltenham
Looking back over the last couple of months, perhaps the best thing that could have happened to Southampton was losing 9-0 to Leicester at the start end of October because it made them change their approach to the game. The players could have been forgiven for not performing at their best for manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and use their player power to get him replaced. Instead, Hasenhuttl has got the best out of his players who have won taken 13 points from their last five league games including a 2-1 revenge win over Leicester which has helped the Saints climb to 12th in the Premier League.
Wolves (21/10), eliminated from the FA Cup by Manchester United on Wednesday night, look like a side whose adventures in the Europa League are beginning to catch up with them. They have already played 38 games this season and we are midway through January. While, they have not won any of their last five league and cup games, they have managed to find the net in 20 of their last 21 games. But they have allowed their opponents to score in 12 of their last 14 which enhances their chances of this games seeing goals for both them and Saints (27/10).
When they met at Molineux on October 19, Danny Ings opened the scoring only for Raul Jimenez to earn Wolves a point from the penalty spot. Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle was the eighth time in the league this season Wolves have drawn 1-1. SportPesa are offering odds of 19/4 for this game to finish 1-1 while a score draw is available at 16/5. Southampton’s 2-1 win at Leicester was the eighth time this season a Saints league game has finished 2-1. They have won three and lost the other five and the home side are 17/2 to win this game 2-1. Both teams to score is priced at 4/5 with Southampton 33/10 to win with at least one goal for Wolves who are 19/4 to win with BTTS landing.
Birmingham (27/20) have been involved in two of the highest scoring game of the Championship this season. The most remarkable game was when they lost 5-4 to Leeds at St Andrew’s with four goals scored in the final 10 minutes. The other crazy game came against Cardiff – their opponents this weekend. Joe Ralls went home with the match ball after his hat-trick helped the Bluebirds beat the Blues 4-2 with two of his three goals coming from the penalty spot. Both sides had a player sent off with just the two goals scored in the final 10 minutes. The last two meetings between these two sides have produced a total of 11 goals and another goal-fest could be on the cards at St Andrew’s.
The last five game the Blues have played including last weekend’s 2-1 league win at Luton have seen goals for both teams. Cardiff’s last league game may have been a drab goalless draw in the battle of Wales with Swansea, but their FA Cup ties with Carlisle before and after that derby have seen 11 goals scored with six going the way of City and five being scored by Carlisle. Five of the last six games Cardiff (41/20) have scored have seen BTTS land and Neil Harris’ side are 17/4 to win this game with at least one goal for the home side who are 33/10 to take the win with both teams finding the back of the net. A score draw is available at 3/1.
It’s third against fourth in League Two on Saturday when Crewe (20/23) host Cheltenham (33/10) knowing a win will see them move above their opponents into third place in the table. Cheltenham are becoming draw specialists with seven stalemates in their last 11 league games. Only Macclesfield (12) and Stevenage (13), who are both struggling at the wrong end of the table, have drawn more, and it won’t surprise many to discover that the first meeting between these two sides ended in a 1-1 draw at Whaddon Road. Gavin Reilly gave Town a ninth minute lead only for Chris Porter to earn Alexandra a point after Perry Ng was sent off for the visitors 20 minutes from time.
Last weekend, Cheltenham beat Walsall 3-1 while Crewe lost by the same score at Swindon. It was the ninth consecutive game involving Crewe that saw BTTS land while Cheltenham’s win was the fifth time in their last seven League Two games which ended with goals for both sides. SportPesa are offering odds of 11/10 for both Crewe and Cheltenham to score and combine for three or more goals.
Over 2.5 goals: Manchester City v Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest v Luton, Rotherham v Bristol Rovers
Manchester City (2/25) have played 33 league and cup games this season and 27 of those matches have seen three or more total goals scored. The six goals they scored in the league at Villa Park last Sunday took the total number of goals scored by City to 94. City have scored three or more goals in 18 games and it would surprise many to see them score three or more against Crystal Palace at the Etihad on Saturday. Every game played at the home of the Premier League champions this season has seen a minimum of two goals.
In this fixture last season, five goals were scored with Palace (25/1) scoring three to shock City in front of their own fans. Sergio Aguero missed that meeting and after becoming the Premier League’s all-time leading scorer for an overseas player with his 12th hat-trick in the English top flight, expect the Argentinian to add to his total of 177 goals against the Eagles this weekend. SportPesa are offering odds of 4/13 for over 2.5 match goals scored and 6/4 for BTTS and over 2.5 goals scored. City are 20/59 to win with three or more total goals scored while Roy Hodgson’s visitors are 45/1 to repeat their success from last season by winning with a minimum of three goals scored.
I’m sorry Luton, but until you stop being involved in games with three or more goals scored, you deserve to be on over 2.5 goals accumulators. It’s getting to the stage where if you went to a Luton game and there weren’t three or more goals scored, you’d feel cheated. For the record, Luton’s 2-1 loss at home to Birmingham was the 16th time in their last 17 league and cup games in which there were three or more goals scored. The last nine games Luton (9/2) have played away from Kenilworth Road, have seen a minimum of three goals and there is every possibility of three or more this weekend when they travel to the City Ground to face a Forest team that will be looking to complete a league double over the Hatters.
At the start of November, Lewis Grabban and Sammy Ameobi scored for Forest (10/17) with Callum McManaman pulling a consolation goal for Luton three minutes from time. Odds of 20/29 are available from SportPesa for there to be three or more goals scored in this fixture while BTTS and over 2.5 goals is on the market at 11/10. Forest are 5/4 to pick up the three points they need to stay in the mix for the play-offs with a minimum of three goals scored. Struggling Town are 7/1 to win with at least three goals scored.
A run of four straight wins has helped Rotherham (5/12) climb to the top of League One ahead of Wycombe on goal difference. And that goal difference has been boosted by the nine goals they have scored in their last three league games. Their 3-1 win at Oxford last Saturday was the seventh successive league and cup game in which there were three or more goals scored. Bristol Rovers (6/1) are going through a rough time in recent weeks with no wins in their last eight games.
In their last two away games, Rovers were beaten 3-0 by the MK Dons and by the same score at Coventry in their FA Cup replay on Tuesday night. Seven of Rovers’ last 10 games in the league have seen a minimum of three goals scored and SportPesa are offering odds of 20/29 for this fixture being played at the New York Stadium to have three or more goals. Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals is trading at 23/20 while the Millers are 21/20 to win with at least three goals scored. Rovers are 21/2 to return to Bristol with the three points in a game with at least three goals.