5 matches to watch this weekend: Who’ll take the spoils in a high-stakes North-West Derby?
We’ve picked out the highlights from the fixture list
Sunday’s clash between Liverpool and Man United is the obvious peak of this week’s fixture list, but there are plenty of other matches to enjoy as well.
We’ve picked out five must-watch matches from across the continent this weekend.
Scott Parker’s Fulham seem to be the league’s draw specialists now, as they battle to stay in the top-flight. That two of their five consecutive draws were against Tottenham and Liverpool lends them some credit.
Can they similarly frustrate Frank Lampard’s Chelsea? The Blues have recorded just one win in five games, falling to ninth in the league and leaving question marks over Lampard’s suitability to take the club forward.
Whether you’re of the belief that bringing a raft of foreigners into the club during a difficult year is to blame, or it’s a failure of leadership from Lampard – it’s safe to say they’re not living up to the lofty expectations placed on them, after spending more than £200 million on talent in the summer.
Fulham impressed on Wednesday evening against Spurs, not just for the result, but for the manner in which they played given they had 48 hours notice. They’ll be looking to match that performance at Craven Cottage on Saturday against a Chelsea side who are clearly lacking confidence and cohesion.
Fulham are 6/1 to win, with the draw priced at 10/3 and a Chelsea win at 1/2.
Think a low-scoring draw looks most likely? You can back the draw with under 2.5 goals at 17/4, while a Chelsea win with both teams to score is at 11/5.
Has the worm finally turned for Sheffield United, or are victories over Bristol Rovers and Newcastle merely anomalies in a season of struggle? Chris Wilder’s side are still rock-bottom in the league, with just five points and it will take something truly special in the second half of the season to dig themselves out of this hole.
Opponents Tottenham were being touted as potential title challengers just a few short weeks ago, but they’ve failed to impress in recent outings. A 1-1 draw against 18th-placed Fulham drew the ire of Tottenham fans, tired of seeing their side attempting to sit back and defend a 1-0 lead. But that’s the hallmark of any Jose Mourinho team of recent years, even if this Spurs side might be better utilised playing a more adventurous brand of football.
As such, Sheffield Utd might see this as an opportunity to at least nick a point from their opponents. The blueprint for how to play against this Tottenham side seems set in stone and Chris Wilder may just be wily enough to execute it, particularly with the confidence boost for his players that comes from back-to-back wins.
Sheffield Utd are 5/1 to win the game, with the draw at 29/10 and a Tottenham win at 8/13.
Fulham, Crystal Palace and Wolves have all managed 1-1 draws with Tottenham this season and if you think that’s the likeliest outcome you can back a 1-1 correct score at 13/2. If your think it will be more comfortable for Spurs, you can back a Tottenham win and under 3.5 goals at 6/5.
The biggest game of the weekend for followers of the Premier League comes from Anfield, as Liverpool take on Man Utd.
From a disastrous start, to top of the league, Man Utd are now the division’s form team, having taken 16 points from a possible 18 in their last six league games. Their climb to the summit has been aided and abetted by patchy form elsewhere, with some lacklustre displays from Liverpool in particular.
Liverpool have lost to Southampton and drawn with relegation threatened Fulham and West Brom in recent weeks, while handily beating Spurs 2-1 and thrashing Crystal Palace 7-0. In other words, they’ve been deeply inconsistent.
Jurgen Klopp’s title winners still look irresistible when they’re on song and there’s plenty of time for them to regain their rhythm, but that really needs to start here. Their unbeaten record at Anfield remains and if they can take back the top spot from United – their path to retaining the title becomes a lot easier to visualise.
Liverpool are 21/20 favourites here, with 27/10 about the draw and a Man Utd win at 13/5.
A Liverpool win and under 3.5 goals can be backed at 21/10, while a Man Utd win with both teams to score comes in at 19/4.
Bayern might be sat in their customary position atop the Bundesliga, but that doesn’t mean everything’s going their way.
An embarrassing 6-5 defeat on penalties to second-tier Holstein Kiel sent them crashing out of the German Cup on Wednesday, while last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach means they’re only two points ahead of second-placed RB Leipzig in the league.
After winning their opening game of the season, Bayern’s opponents Freiburg went on a dismal run, failing to win their next nine games. But they finally found their groove in December and go into this match having won their last five games – including a 5-0 thrashing of Cologne last weekend.
Can Freiburg use their momentum to inflict further injury on the German giants, or will it be back to business as usual for Bayern?
Bayern are 2/9 to get back to winning ways, with 11/2 about the draw and 10/1 on a Freiburg win.
With neither team shy of a goal – a Bayern win with over 3.5 goals comes in at Evens, while Bayern and over 5.5 goals is at 19/5.
Juventus have won Serie A for nine consecutive seasons, but find themselves with plenty of work to do if they want to catch table-topping AC Milan – they’re seven points off the pace in fourth, with a game in hand.
And on Sunday they come up against Milan’s city rivals Inter, who are just two points off the top spot themselves.
Juventus are on a three-game winning streak and were able to end AC Milan’s unbeaten start to the campaign with a 3-1 victory when they met just over a week ago. Inter could and perhaps should have capitalised on that result, but defeat to Sampdoria and a 2-2 draw with third-placed Roma means they remain in second.
Both teams progressed to the Coppa Italia quarter-finals in midweek, although both required extra-time to beat their opponents – with Romelu Lukaku firing home in the 119th minute to allow Inter to scrape past Fiorentina.
Inter are the marginal favourites here at 7/5 to win, with the draw at 5/2 and a Juventus win at 9/5.
Inter are the league’s top-scoring side, with 43 goals so far this term, while Juventus boast the league’s stingiest defence, having conceded just 16 goals.
You can back an Inter win, with under 3.5 goals at 13/5, while a Juventus win with over 1.5 goals comes in at 23/10.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.