I am not sure what they are putting in the water at Anfield, but whatever it is has suddenly made Liverpool go goal crazy at both ends of the pitch.
After spending the last 18 months or so trying in vain (painfully so at times) to score a goal, while at the same time staying reasonably defensively sound, the Reds’ matches have often made listening to an Ed Balls speech exciting in comparison.
But these last few weeks have been a revelation as it has rained goals wherever Liverpool have gone. A 3-2 home defeat to Udinese in the Europa League was the latest match where Brendan Rodgers’ side have looked threatening going forward but incredibly open at the back and with goals flying in at both ends of the pitch, the Reds are suddenly the go-to team for shambolic entertainment.
Liverpool’s young team has given the club a new lease of life and with so many youngsters being blooded at once, then there is a freshness to the team that hasn’t been apparent for some time and Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom have rightfully usurped the likes of Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique in the pecking order.
But with youth comes inconsistency and scorelines of 5-3, 1-2, 2-1,5-2 and 2-3 show that erratic displays have been coming in the same match. You don’t really know what you’re going to get from Liverpool over the course of any given ten minutes, never mind a sequence of games, and for as long as the promising signs at the attacking end of the pitch are coupled with defensive lapses, the Reds will carry on with these daft matches.
It means that Stoke City, such poor travellers in the Premier League, will be going to Anfield thinking they can get a result. The bookies at bwin don’t fancy their chances much, making the Potters 6/1 outsiders, with Liverpool firm favourites at 12/25 (the draw is 3/1) and a resilient Stoke side offer a different sort of test for Liverpool than any other they have faced this year.
The Reds’ three home league games (the two Manchester clubs and Arsenal) as well as Udinese on Thursday have all been matches in which both teams have carried constant attacking threat. Stoke, on the other hand, will not deviate from the tactics they use whenever travelling to face the big clubs on the road and will sit back, nice and compact, hoping to make the use of set-pieces to nick a goal – just the type of team Liverpool have struggled against at Anfield for years.
They don’t nick many goals on the road – Tony Pulis’ side only scored 11 league goals away from home last season – but with former Reds Peter Crouch, Charlie Adam and ex-footballer Michael Owen returning to Anfield, I actually fancy Stoke to notch and given the state of Liverpool’s defence (only three teams have let in more goals than Rodgers’ men) you don’t see them keeping a clean sheet.
But I don’t think that will be enough for Stoke and my bet here is the 13/10 on Liverpool to win and over 2.5 goals. Liverpool are scoring goals for fun and with a fluent, attack-minded midfield (Nuri Sahin carries a real goal threat), I have a feeling that the Reds will not struggle to break down deep-lying defences as much as they have done over recent years.
The FA Cup match between the sides finished 2-1 in March and I also like the 13/4 that Liverpool win 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 to give Brendan Rodgers a first home win.
Recommended bet: Liverpool to win and over 2.5 goals @ 13/10
Outside punt: Liverpool to win 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 @ 13/4
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