Shooting practice has probably been a major feature of Liverpool’s training sessions this week after the Reds’ failure to finish saw them held to a frustrating 1-1 Boxing Day draw with Blackburn.
While their record of converting shots into goals is the poorest in the Premier League this season at 8%, one man who can be forgiven the need to sharpen up his finishing is Maxi Rodriguez, who can be backed at a great price of 8/1 to score first against Newcastle at Anfield this Friday.
The Argentine winger was the first Liverpool player to make the breakthrough against Blackburn and has some mightily impressive goalscoring stats to his name.
His two goals so far in a season afflicted by injury have come in just 322 minutes of action, making him the Reds’ most prolific scorer measured by time on the field.
Over the past two seasons, Rodriguez’s 12 Premier League goals in a Liverpool shirt have come every 197 minutes, on average. By contrast, striker Luis Suarez has scored just once every 285 minutes for his new club, challenging common belief that the Uruguayan is Liverpool’s main goal threat.
Suarez’s suspension for Friday night’s clash makes a punt on Rodriguez to score first even more likely to pay off. If you are not convinced though, 2/1 are decent odds for the winger to score at any time within the 90 minutes.
Over the past two seasons, Rodriguez’s 12 Premier League goals in a Liverpool shirt have come every 197 minutes, on average.
Andy Carroll is sure to be in the spotlight due to the visit of his former club and absence of Suarez. Carroll’s disappointing Liverpool goalscoring record should improve as his team-mates are forced to react to Suarez’s further eight-game ban by supplying him more of the aerial balls he thrives on.
If that turns out to be the case, Carroll’s odds of 4/1 to score first against Newcastle might be better value than at any point this season.
Looking to Newcastle, Demba Ba now has an astonishing 13 goals in his last 12 league matches. Given his red-hot form, Ba is generously priced at 15/2 given to net first at Anfield this Friday, assuming he shakes off the knock he picked up against Bolton.
To be first goalscorer, however, Ba would need more help from his team-mates than Newcastle’s poor current form (one win in six) and Liverpool’s tight defence makes likely.
Much more tempting are the 2/1 odds for Ba to strike at any time on Friday for his 22nd league goal in 30 appearances in 2011 – a goal that would also halve the gap on Robin van Persie at the top of the goalscoring charts.
Another in-form player at the out-of-form Magpies is Hatem Ben Arfa, who enjoyed one of his best performances since joining the club after coming on as a substitute against Bolton on Boxing Day.
The talented Frenchman can be backed at 13/4 to score again against Liverpool, although waiting for the teams to be announced before placing this bet is probably the best course of action.
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