Man Utd v Liverpool and EFL Cup Final Previews
Super Sunday Part I - Man Utd v Liverpool Premier League Preview
Boasting a combined tally of 38 league titles between them, these two red giants of the north-west do battle once again. A victory for Liverpool, in what is their game in hand over title-chase rivals Manchester City, will give Jürgen Klopp's men a huge impetus in the race for glory, and restore the three-point gap that existed prior to Manchester City's win at Goodison Park on 6th February.
Both teams have suffered deflating results in the Champions League of late with Liverpool misfiring in their home tie against Bayern Munich and United all but out of this year's competition thanks to a comprehensive 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Paris St Germain. Whilst Liverpool are still in the race for two trophies, United have only the FA Cup to realistically play for now but will naturally be eager to maintain their current unbeaten home run over Liverpool (five matches, across all competitions), so nothing but maximum effort is expected from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.
Man Utd v Liverpool - Who Goes Into The Match As Favourite?
Current spread betting prices for this match suggest a slight edge for Liverpool, but as for Solskjaer himself, his record against fellow opposition in the top-six of the league now stands at played three, won three across all competitions. Remarkably, all of those victories have come on the road, with the common factor being United goals between the 31st and 45th minutes of play, with five of the Red Devils' six strikes across those games arriving in that time frame.
Significantly, prior to their draw at West Ham in their last league road trip, Liverpool had scored more than a single goal in just one of their preceding five matches across all competitions. They had also kept an impressive six clean sheets from the twelve prior away league matches, with six of that dozen also seeing them win after leading at half-time.
Only time will tell just how much Liverpool will miss the points they dropped in successive games against teams outside the current top six, but the nature of how Liverpool's lead has been slashed only fuels the argument that they don't quite have enough to go all the way. Nonetheless, Klopp's men remain the second-best away team in the league, and would sit just three points behind Tottenham if only away games counted.
Betting on Shirt Numbers
While key elements of a match like first and second half goals, specific goal times (including goal minutes) and half-time/full-time scorelines (including team supremacy) are cornerstones of the spread betting experience for most people, numbers are significant in a much more expansive way when it comes to spread betting for the biggest matches.
One popular index is the Shirt Numbers Market, in which the total value of the shirt numbers of goalscorers is added together to arrive at the settle value. Using the reverse fixture as the example, you can gauge just how much one goal can turn a losing bet into a huge win - and vice-versa.
With a shirt number spread of 41-44 if you had wagered £2 on the buy value of 44 when Liverpool hosted United, with 20 minutes to go you'd have been looking at a loss, with the teams deadlocked at 1-1 through goals from Sadio Mane (#10) and Jesse Lingard (#14).
This created what was shaping up to be a final value of 24 - a whole 20 points below the buy value. Had the result stayed at 1-1, a negative make-up of -20 would have been created in this scenario, based on the following calculation:
24 (settle value) - 44 (buy price) = -20
You would therefore lose 20x your stake (£2 x -20 = -£40).
However, Xherdan Shaqiri (#23) was introduced on the 70-minute mark, and scored to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead and take the settle value to 47 - which would turn the loss described above into a win. The Swiss international then scored again, taking the settle value in this scenario to 70 - a whole 26 points above the buy price.
That is how it stayed, and because of Klopp's tactical switch and Shaqiri¿s mastery, you would instead win back 26x your £2 stake (£52) based on the following calculation:
70 (settle value) - 44 (buy price) = 26.
Big Numbers, Bigger Heroes
As with any other spread betting market, the risk/reward situation is as thrilling as ever when it comes to shirt numbers. With the days of shirts numbered only from 1-11 long gone, it seems as though there is greater license than ever for players to choose high numbers.
One famous example from recent times is Gary Hooper, who once wore #88 for Celtic on account of his birth year. The culture also seems prevalent at Liverpool, with two players of note having shirt numbers greater than 60. Meanwhile, two Manchester United players with squad numbers over 30 (including #31 Nemanja Matic) made the XVIII that beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup on Monday night.
Reds Ready to Rumble
This is an extremely difficult match to call, but Liverpool have one significant disadvantage, in addition to being the away side in a fixture that doesn't favour visitors all too often. Though Klopp has improved Liverpool's fitness levels tenfold since arriving on Merseyside, they face United on the back of an exhausting effort against Bayern Munich in midweek.
A strong start is expected from Liverpool, as that is what they do best. However, if the game is level at half-time, then logic dictates that United could well turn on the style, and put a further dent in the Merseyside club's title ambitions.
United or Liverpool? Take your pick! To see more games offering shirt number spread betting markets, take a look at all our football spread betting markets from top matches across the world!
Super Sunday Part II - Can Under Pressure Sarri Stop Current EFL Cup Holders Man City?
Manchester City should be full of confidence as they prepare for their EFL Cup final clash against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday. Pep Guardiola's men thrashed the Blues 6-0 in the Premier League last Sunday on the back of some utterly scintillating football.
They have returned to form at the perfect time of the season, while Chelsea are in dire straits under beleaguered boss Maurizio Sarri. The Italian looks to be on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge after presiding over an embarrassing run of results, and defeat in this game could be the final nail in the coffin.
Chelsea have enjoyed a remarkable level of success since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich purchased the club in 2003. He chops and changes managers with alarming regularity, but it is hard to argue with the results as the club's trophy cabinet is now bulging. He will be distinctly unimpressed by recent developments at Chelsea as they have lost 2-0 to Arsenal, 4-0 to Bournemouth and 6-0 to Man City in their last three away games, causing them to slump down to sixth in the league table. They went down with a whimper as they lost 2-0 to Man Utd in the FA Cup fifth round at the weekend and the once praised Sarriball method looks well and truly broken.
Man City's billionaire owners will be altogether a lot happier with the return on their investment this season. They arrived in England five years later than Abramovich, but they followed the blueprint he laid down with gusto. They have thrown money around like confetti and they too have enjoyed a great deal of success. Yet that has really gone into overdrive since Guardiola took over. His first season was a building-process, but last season City coasted to the title in record-breaking fashion, dazzling neutrals and pundits alike with their technical ability.
Man City Aiming to Defend Their Crown
Manchester City won this competition in 2018 by breezing past Arsenal in the final. It finished 3-0 to Man City, but the winning margin could have been greater as they played Arsene Wenger¿s men off the park. They will fancy their chances of pulling off a similarly one-sided victory over Chelsea on Sunday. It has not all been plain sailing for City in 2018/19, but they remain on course for the quadruple. They are locked in a gripping title battle with Liverpool, but they are favourites to win it. They are into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and they are still going strong in the Champions League, while the EFL Cup spread betting markets show that they are heavy favourites to win this game.
Yet it is worth noting that the recent head-to-head record against these teams is fairly even. Chelsea beat Man City home and away in 2016/17 as they won the title under Antonio Conte, only for Man City to win both games last season. But when they met in December, Chelsea picked up a 2-0 win, although they did suffer a humiliating defeat earlier this month. The last time they met in a cup competition, Chelsea won 5-1 in February 2016.
However, Chelsea will currently be low on confidence after an alarming dip in form in recent weeks. Fans are livid with Sarri's refusal to alter his tactics. The Blues' recent successes have been based upon N'Golo Kante dominating the midfield, yet Sarri insists on deploying Jorginho - the Italian he brought with him from Napoli in the summer - in that role, with Kante shunted out wide. It has left Chelsea unbalanced in midfield, as Kante's impact is blunted, while the new man has been marked out of several games and service to Chelsea's forwards has been cut off.
How Jorginho must rue his decision not to join Man City in the summer. Guardiola thought he had captured the Italian's signature, only for Jorginho to elect to join Sarri at Chelsea at the last minute. Instead of slotting into a Man City midfield that is firing on all cylinders, he has laboured in a struggling team and had plenty of abuse hurled at him.
It will be fascinating to see Jorginho, Kante and Matteo Kovacic go up against the likes of Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva in this game. Man City's midfield is a well-oiled machine, but Chelsea¿s is arguably the only one in the Premier League that can stand up to it in terms of raw talent. It just depends on whether Sarri can find a way to utilise it properly.
Aguero Hungry for More Goals
One advantage Man City have is their abundance of quick, technically gifted forwards. Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva are all phenomenally talented players and tactically Man City are sublime. Aguero has been banging in goals for fun of late - he scored a hat-trick in that 6-0 win over Chelsea - and he is sure to receive impeccable service from his teammates on Sunday. Guardiola is also blessed with plenty of options in midfield, as Ilkay Gundogan is having a fine season, Bernardo Silva has been successfully deployed there and Phil Foden looks like an exceptional talent. There are very few weaknesses in this team and the defence is growing stronger.
Chelsea have a superstar of their own in Eden Hazard, but the brilliant Belgian has often cut a frustrated figure this season. He grows exasperated when he does not see much of the ball, and you would expect Man City to dominate possession in this game. Yet the Blues have also signed a dynamite forward in Gonzalo Higuain, while Olivier Giroud, Willian and Pedro provide further attacking options for Sarri, and they could be dangerous if they receive the right service from midfield.
Abramovich has invested a fortune in this team, so they are not to be taken lightly and a Man City victory is no sure thing. Anything can happen in 90 minutes and Chelsea have plenty of match winners, but they will need to improve their motivation levels, increase their tactical discipline and use the ball to far more devastating effect if they are to overwhelm the mighty Man City in this game.
Who will lift the EFL Cup on Sunday at Wembley? Sporting Index have a whole host of thrilling football spread betting markets on offer for the final.