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EPL Liverpool vs. Manchester City Betting Preview

Soccer

(Liverpool +170, Manchester City +140, Draw +260)

This Sunday EPL bettors will be treated to the biggest matchup of the season. League leaders Liverpool take on defending EPL champions Manchester City, with the two teams already having established themselves as the clear contenders for this year’s crown. Let’s take a look at the two teams and what may unfold in this massive encounter.

It is a testament to the supremacy of Manchester City and Liverpool over the current EPL landscape that a game in early November actually brings with it huge title implications. Last season was a two-way battle for the ages, with Manchester City edging Liverpool for the title by a single point. City amassed 98 points and Liverpool gained 97, a record for a runner-up. How big are the matches between these two sides? Last season, their last match against each other came in the first week of January, at roughly the halfway point of the campaign. Both teams had 17 of 38 matches still to play. Amazingly, Liverpool went 13-4-0, while Manchester City went a staggering 16-0-1 after they had won a dramatic 2-1 victory at home to Liverpool. The fact that these two teams are able to go on such long stretches dropping barely any points, makes these matches pivotal. Without that win in January, City would have ceded the championship to Liverpool.

Liverpool have raced out of the gates at a record pace. In their opening 11 games, they’ve won 10 and tied 1, dropping only two points in a 1-1 match away at Manchester United. Manchester City, by their insanely high standards, have had a couple of stumbles, particularly a bizarre 3-2 defeat to relegation-candidates Norwich City. A home loss to Wolverhampton was an anomaly, but in fairness the Wolves have a very good record against the EPL’s biggest clubs. Liverpool’s home form has been nothing short of incredible. They have not lost at Anfield since a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on April 23, 2017, a span of 45 games. This year they’ve already beaten quality teams like Leicester, Tottenham, and Arsenal at home. The idea that Liverpool could be an underdog getting +170 on their home field has to be incredibly tempting.

That said, it’s not quite fair to suggest that Liverpool is as good as their record. Using the expected points table, Liverpool should have 22.7 points, a ridiculous 8.3 fewer than they have, easily the highest discrepancy in the league. While this is an insightful tool and stat to use, the eye test tells us Liverpool is not as impressive as their current pace might have you believe. They probably did not deserve to win against Leicester, as they were gifted a controversial penalty deep into injury time. They grabbed a point against middling Manchester United with five minutes to go. To be fair, Liverpool had turned up the pressure toward the end of the game, but for most of proceedings, United had dealt pretty easily with the Liverpool attack. Away wins against Southampton, Chelsea, and Sheffield United all came from mediocre team performances and a healthy dose of luck. Guessing what happens next remains tricky though. After all, it’s winning when not playing well that is so often an indicator of an EPL champion. Liverpool has learned this skill over these last few years, and their continuity and chemistry may just keep results like that coming.

City on the other hand, have underperformed their expected points total by 1.8 points. With the exception of the match against Norwich, they have coasted on their travels, winning all four of their other away games by at least two goals. From a motivation standpoint, although Liverpool has an overwhelming desire to win their first EPL title since 1990, in this exact game, it feels like it’s more important for Manchester City to get a win. A loss would leave them nine points back and make it Liverpool’s league title to lose. One factor working against City, however, is travel. In addition to having to go to Liverpool, City had to go to Italy in midweek to play a Champions League match against quality side Atalanta. They drew 1-1, and used many of their best players, including Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and Bernardo Silva for the full 90 minutes. Attacker Riyad Mahrez logged 88 minutes. Most troubling, City’s star goalkeeper Ederson was injured during the game, and will be replaced by the erratic Claudio Bravo. Meanwhile, Liverpool beat small Belgian club Genk 2-1 at home and have been lying in wait for City.

This could be a spot where choosing neither team is not actually sitting on the fence. Taking the +260 on a draw has serious appeal. It just feels like there are a lot of ways for this match to end in a tie. Both teams can defend when needed, and obviously have the attacking firepower to get a goal if they find themselves down. These teams have been matching each other step-for-step for a couple of years now, and the match still is early enough in the season that there’s every chance that toward the end of the game, both managers, City’s Pep Guardiola in particular, will realize that in this case it’s still most important to not lose. Given how rarely these two teams do lose, it seems like a decent bet at the price.