Liverpool were runners up in the Premier League title race last season but they have looked miles away from challenging this time around. They have already had six defeats from their 14 matches, which is as many as they suffered in the whole of last season, and without Luis Suarez, who they sold to Barcelona, and Daniel Sturridge, who seems perpetually injured, they simply can’t score enough goals to paper over the obvious defensive cracks that have long been apparent in the team.
During the 2013-14 season, Liverpool scored an average of 2.66 goals per game. This season that figure is down at 1.36, which is exactly the same as the average number of goals they’ve conceded. A hat-trick of league defeats in November against Chelsea, Newcastle and Crystal Palace spelt disaster for the Reds, but they have since bounced back a little with back to back wins over Stoke and Leicester. Saturday’s game at Anfield against Sunderland will be a crucial test of whether or not Brendan Rodgers’ men can maintain the momentum in order to start moving up the table.
There is still no sign of a return from the physio’s couch for Sturridge, and with Mario Balotelli embroiled in another off-the-field fiasco, it is likely the lead striker’s role will be given to Rickie Lambert, who looks finally to be finding his feet on Merseyside.
Sunderland, who lost to champions Man City last time out to end a four-game unbeaten run, could welcome back Wes Brown and Adam Johnson as they look to post their first league victory at Anfield since 1981.
If you think Sunderland could snatch a shock win, or at least avoid defeat, Betfair’s latest Premier League betting offer could be of interest. They are offering a refund on losing bets as a free bet if Liverpool fail to win the match.
The offer applies to pre-match bets placed on the following markets: first/last/anytime goalscorer, correct score or anytime correct score, and – if Liverpool fail to win the match – Betfair will refund your losing stake as a free bet of up to £25. The free bet would be credited within three hours of the conclusion of the match and your qualifying bet must be placed on the Betfair fixed odds sportsbook (as opposed to the exchange).
Given that Liverpool’s confidence appears to be gradually trickling back, and that they have been very strong at home against Sunderland in the Premier League era (six wins from their last eight at Anfield against them) we can see the home side just about nicking this one. But we certainly don’t think they’ll have things all their own way and backing them to win 2-1 or even 3-2 could prove very profitable in the correct score market at respective odds of 15/2 and 25/1.
Alternatively, taking Lambert to score first in the game might well pay dividends at 4/1, with Betfair’s money back offer giving you a nice insurance policy if the Black Cats hold out for a point (or three).