A magnificent day of football looks in prospect on Sunday, with two big ties to create the first real Super Sunday of the season.
Liverpool entertain Manchester United at Anfield in the 1:30 kick-off, and for the first time in a while. Liverpool enter the game as favourites, and rightly so.
They have started the season in impressive fashion, showing resilience in two 1-0 victories over potential tricky opposition.
Sunday offers the first real test for Rogers’ men, and they will be confident they can get one over on their Manchester rivals, who landed the double against them last year.
However, stats are against Liverpool, with the last time the Reds started a season with three consecutive wins, being back in 1994 under Roy Evans. This, mixed with the fact that the last time Liverpool won five games on the bounce (they have won four so far), was back in May 2009.
This will give David Moyes, who interestingly enough has never won at Anfield as a manager, a bit of extra hope.
His side have started well, inflicting a severe 4-1 defeat at Swansea on the opening day of the season, before being held to a goaless draw by tital rivals Chelsea last Monday.
Moyes opted for a rather defensive side, seemingly taking his tactics from Everton with him. He can’t rely on such tactics tomorrow, with a patient Liverpool side happy to keep possession under Rogers, and with the likes of Coutinho and Sturridge, are likely to break a deep sitting side down.
He will be forced to play his hand, and attack a rather makeshift Liverpool defence, with Skrtel likely to deputise in the place of the injured Toure, who will be a real loss for Liverpool.
He has struggled with the imperious RVP over the past few seasons with Van Persie scoring four in his last three appearances against Liverpool, and the Dutchman looks fair value at 5/1 to be the first-scorer at Anfield.
With rash challenges galore in these games, it often pays to side with penalty takers and with RVP being covered each-way at 5/1, we turn our attention to the Reds’ skipper, Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard has been a tad out of form this season, failing to fire on all cylinders as expected. Age could well be playing a part, with him residing in a more defensive role, as Coutinho and Henderson have come to the fore in the more attacking midfield roles, however he never fails to turn up in the big games.
His record against United is outstanding, and he seems to save his deadliest set-piece expertise for against his rivals. He looks a massive 14/1 to be first-scorer, and with Liverpool ‘due a pen’, it’s worth taking on the 11/2 for him to score any-time as-well.
However, De Gea’s brilliant shot-stopping ability, mean he will be tough to beat, even from the spot, and it could be up to the rebound for Gerrard to blast home. It’s 16/1 for Liverpool to miss a penalty (17/1 for United), and as much as it pains me, it may pay to have a small saver on it, to cover the bets slightly.
I would be looking at backing Rooney any-time at 11/4, but the rumours circulating that he has sustained a head injury, and may well miss the match, mean we won’t look at this, and instead turn our attentions to following the stats into another value bet.
Nemanja Vidic has often seen red against Liverpool over the years, being sent off in three consecutive games between the two sides, and he is a massive 23/10 just to be carded tomorrow. As short as 6/5 in places, the Serbian could prove one step behind the pacey Sturridge, and Sterling if he is given the nod.
He enjoys letting the striker know they are in a game, and will be out to leave his mark on the game early. 23/10 looks a solid bet.
Elsewhere, the North London derby kicks-off late afternoon, and Spurs will look to pile even more pressure on Arsene Wenger.
Roberto Soldado has started brightly, netting two in two (albeit penalites), and looks a solid bet at 7/1 to be the first scorer on Sunday.
AVB has been absolutely magnificent during the transfer window, and he’s assembled a side that look firm favourites to bag the all important fourth place and Champions League spot.
With Bale’s future in major doubt, he will be looking to his new side to step up to the mark in his absence on keep on improving. Paulinho has been a tremendous acquisition and the 14/1 about him bagging the first goal could be worth a small punt, as-well as the 11/2 about him scoring anytime.
Neither team will want to risk losing so early in the season, and it could be a day for first’s, with Tottenham aiming to score their first goal from open play, and also may come a cropper to conceding their first goal of the season, potentially surrendering their 100% record in the process.
Jan Vertonghen has been a revelation since moving to Spurs, improving with each passing game, however up against Theo Walcott tomorrow, he will have to be constantly on his toes.
Covering when his left-back attacks, he will often be left against Walcott’s blistering pace and he may well be in a position where at times he has to take one for the team and purposely bring down his opponent.
A booking is likely at some stage for the Belgian, and the 11/4 on offer should be snapped up with open arms.
1 point: RVP to score first @ 5/1 (William Hill)
1 point: Gerrard to score first & any-time @ 14/1 & 11/2 (William Hill)
1 point: Paulinho to score first & any-time @ 14/1 & 11/2 (Coral)
0.5 point: Liverpool to miss a penalty @ 16/1 (Paddy Power)
1 point double: Vidic & Vertonghen to be booked @ 11.37/1 (888Sports & UniBet)