Liverpool (+141) vs. Manchester City (+210), Draw (+260)
Liverpool (12-4-2, 40 points) and Manchester City (12-3-3, 39 points) will meet at Anfield Stadium on Saturday, December 31st for a crucial Premier League match-up to close out the year.
Both teams are currently giving chase to league leading Chelsea, who is enjoying a 12-game winning streak and a 6-point lead in the standings. Neither Liverpool nor City can afford to drop any more points if they want to catch the title favorites this season.
Liverpool is coming off an entertaining 4-1 win against Stoke. The club conceded a goal early in the first half and looked shaky throughout the early moments of the game. But after reclaiming their composure, the goals started pouring in and they finished the game with a comfortable and convincing win.
Manchester City faced last-place Hull City in the latest round and sealed the three points they were expected to take. But the 3-0 scoreline doesn’t accurately represent the game. City struggled to break through the Hull defense for the majority of the game, scoring their first goal late in the 72nd minute by way of a penalty. After that, the floodgates opened and City quickly added two more to the ledger. But the City attack never looked well-coordinated, and if Hull had held on for just a little longer, it could have easily ended in a draw.
One stark difference between the two teams is their starting line-up. Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool has found a system that works and has established a stable starting lineup. Whereas Pep Guardiola is still constantly tinkering with the Man City lineup 18 games into the season. That is partly due to the injury and suspension of some of his key players, but it also suggests Guardiola hasn’t been able to find a system that works for both the players and the manager.
Realistically, if Chelsea is going to be caught, it will be either Liverpool or Manchester City that catches them. But if that’s going to happen, they can’t allow Chelsea to gain anymore ground. Liverpool is currently undefeated in its last 16 Premier League home matches and are looking like the more threatening side at the moment. Both teams have shown their weaknesses in defense, but recently only Liverpool have seemed threatening in attack.
Pick: Liverpool (+141)
Photo credit: “Liverpool FC Vs Arsenal Dec 21st 2014 (2-2)-210012” by John Jones CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.