Sports Betting Weekly

Liverpool v Manchester United

When: Sunday, 22 March 2015 @ 18:30 (FINISHED)
Where: Anfield
Following Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Swansea on Monday, Brendan Rodgers’ side have successfully placed themselves back in serious contention for a top four spot – and they could even break into the league’s upper echelons at the expense of bitter rivals, Manchester United, on Sunday.

The North-West Derby has had its fair share of thrills and spills for both sides over the years, and while this one won’t settle a title or cup, there will still be plenty riding on the game for both teams as they chase that much-derided “fourth place trophy” and UEFA Champions League qualification.

Having spent in the region of £150 million on transfers and hired a world-renowned coach in Dutchman, Louis van Gaal, anything less than the top four would be an absolute disaster for United – and the same applies for Liverpool, who have forked out over £110 million to replace Luis Suarez.

It’s taken a little while for the Reds to get going this season and at first they deeply missed the Uruguayan’s presence in the team – a fact made plain for all to see as they lost nine out of their opening 20 matches in all competitions, leading some Liverpool fans to call for the manager’s head.

Perhaps thankfully for the more patient majority of Liverpool fans, the club’s owners did not share the same knee-jerk reaction during that period and have since been rewarded for their faith as Rodgers has steered the club within two points of the top four and an F.A. Cup quarter-final replay.

With Rodgers’ sides traditionally picking up serious momentum during the second half of the season, this match could be the start of a ding-dong battle between the two teams that rages on into April and May – and it could be one that goes right down to the wire.

As for United, this season has been yet another transitional one following David Moyes’ stint in the 2013/2014 campaign – and really, not all that much has changed. Yes, they are currently sitting in fourth place and easily despatched Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend in what was possibly their best performance post-Sir Alex Ferguson, but again they face the prospect of a trophy-less season.

United are eight points behind Chelsea at the top of the league having played a game more, they endured a truly embarrassing 4-0 loss to League One MK Dons in the first round of the Capital One Cup and they crashed out of the F.A. Cup to Arsenal – a game they only got to by overcoming League Two Cambridge United via a replay before recording a controversial victory over Preston North End.

With the money spent, this isn’t a return that should be deemed acceptable by Manchester United’s standards – no matter who the manager is – and there will be numerous questions about van Gaal’s future if his philosophy doesn’t pay off and United miss out on the Champions League. They go into this tie as underdogs according to the bookmakers too, with United priced at 11/4 to claim victory at Anfield and the hosts chalked up as 6/5 favourites.

One major weapon United do have in their arsenal is Wayne Rooney, who has been back among the goals since van Gaal decided he wasn’t in fact a deep-lying midfielder, but a centre forward. Rooney is 6/1 to open the scoring and 28/13 to score anytime in the game. Beyond him, there is also the ever-improving Marouane Fellaini, who has showed his true ability in recent weeks and opened the scoring against Tottenham. He is priced at 4/1 to score anytime, which represents good value here.

As for Liverpool, England striker Daniel Sturridge is 5/1 to score first and 17/11 to net anytime, while young forward, Raheem Sterlin,g is 15/2 to get the ball rolling and 5/2 to add to his six-goal tally at any point in the match.