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Odds and Ends

United Home Underdogs to Desperate Liverpool

by Nick Hennion
Updated On: May 1, 2021, 12:59 pm ET

If the expectation of this season’s matches between big six clubs was Heath Ledger’s Joker, the reality is closer to Jared Leto’s. 

Across the 25 matches between the English Super League squads, two-thirds have finished under 2.5 goals with six of those games finishing 0-0. 

Manchester United and Liverpool will look to produce a Ledger-quality match on Sunday when the Reds visit Old Trafford desperately needing three points to have a chance at a Champions League spot. 

After a 6-2 drubbing of Roma in the Europa League semis Thursday, United return to Old Trafford as slight home underdogs. The Red Devils are +175 on the three-way moneyline at PointsBet Sportsbook, with Liverpool the favorite at +145 and a draw priced at +240. 

As for the total, over 2.5 goals comes in as the favorite at -125 with under 2.5 goals priced at -105. 

Manchester United vs. Liverpool Preview - Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enters the match with no fresh injury concerns following Thursday’s home victory against Roma. Only long-term absentees Anthony Martial and Phil Jones will be unavailable for the match, while Dean Henderson and Daniel James could come back into the Starting XI after resting in the midweek. 

In a pre-match press conference, Solskjaer hinted at the possibility of prioritizing the return leg in the Italian capital even with United up four goals. 

“Thursday night was an intense game and we need to see who is really fresh and fit to play against Liverpool,” the United manager said. “You definitely don’t take anything for granted in the knock-out phase, even when you’re four goals up in a semi-final.” 

On the Liverpool side, Jurgen Klopp is still without a plethora of options at centre-back as Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all out for the match with Nat Phillips a doubt. Additionally, captain Jordan Henderson and forward Divock Origi are set to miss the match as well. 

To account for the absences, expect the restoration of holding midfielder Fabinho to a centre-back role and the possibility of four up top with Diogo Jota joining the normal trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané

In terms of Premier League form, United have a massive edge over Liverpool. Since a shock home defeat to Sheffield United, Manchester United have reeled off a 12-match unbeaten run with eight wins and four draws. At home during that span, it’s four wins and one draw. 

As for Liverpool, they have produced a five-match unbeaten run after losing six of seven from the beginning of February to the beginning of March. Away from Anfield, the Reds have won four of their last five after a loss to Leicester City on February 13th. 

Match Analysis

The intriguing element of this match to me is that both sides have polar-opposite results against the big six at their respective venues. 

At home, United have failed to win a game outright against their fellow Super League clubs. Two draws have come against Manchester City and Chelsea, with two losses coming against Arsenal and Tottenham. In three of those four matches, under 2.5 goals have been scored. 

Away from home, Liverpool have yet to record an outright loss against the fellow Super League sides. In their four matches thus far, Liverpool have won three times against Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea with a draw coming against Manchester City. 

For that reason, I’m looking first to Liverpool Draw, No Bet (-125) as my main play in this game. For what it’s worth, Liverpool Double Chance (-223) provides a slice of value, but I’d treat that more as a lean. 

I’m also a fan of the price on Diogo Jota Anytime Goal (+150). When you consider that Firmino, Salah and Mane have amassed a measly two goals in a combined 25 appearances vs. United, I’ll take a chance on Jota. If for some reason he fails to find a place in the Starting XI, this play would subsequently become a lean with a (hopefully) better price.

Personally, I’m going to stay away from the total in this match, but I’ll share one potentially profitable trend that might pique your interest. 

The referee for this match is Michael Oliver. In the last 17 matches he has refereed in the Premier League, all but one fixture (!!) has gone over 2.5 goals including 10 straight. Across those same 17 matches, over 3.5 goals have cashed at a 42 percent clip. 

So if you’re inclined to cheer for absolute chaos, Over 3.5 Goals (+200) could be worth a sweat. 

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Nick Hennion

Nick Hennion serves as a soccer betting contributor for NBC Sports EDGE. Previously, he served as a social media and television producer at the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSIN) after earning his master’s degree in sports journalism at Northwestern University. You can find him on Twitter @NickHennion.