COURTESYFOOTBALL FORM LABS
Man Utd v Liverpool - Saturday 12:30, Sky Sports
A late comeback against Palace masks some of the cracks at United, who despite winning six of their last eight haven’t been as impressive as their opponents ahead of this clash. Since taking the reins at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho has specialised in restricting Jurgen Klopp’s free-flowing Liverpool as his side have shown little ambition in winning with a 1-1 draw and two goalless stalemates to date. It’s unlikely that the Portuguese will change his tactics here as the Red Devils currently hold a slender lead over their rivals in the standings, so his number one priority will be to avoid defeat.
However, that’s going to be difficult against a Liverpool side with their tails up having won eight of their last 10 and scoring at least twice in nine of these fixtures. They have a decent W4-D5-L2 record travelling to the Big Six under their German manager, but they’ve not won any of their last five (D3-L2), conceding 12 times in three trips this season, though much of the damage was done in visits to the more attack-minded Spurs and Man City.
Mourinho’s United are W4-D4-L2 hosting the same opposition since his arrival and none of these games have featured more than three goals with Under 2.5 Goals landing in five. Both defeats were inflicted by their city neighbours and in fact Guardiola’s team are the only one in the division to win at Old Trafford since the start of last season. As a result the draw certainly appeals the most here at 3.4 and has landed in half of Klopp’s 26 meetings against top-six opposition at all venues during his time in England.
Chelsea v Crystal Palace - Saturday 17:30, BT Sport 1
Chelsea have dropped out of the top four after consecutive defeats at both Manchester clubs with Conte criticised for his overly cautious approach most recently at the Etihad. However, it’s their losses against Watford and Bournemouth and only a victory over rock-bottom West Brom in their previous three fixtures that suggest they’re too short at the prices here.
Palace were left heartbroken on Monday night after letting a two-goal lead slip to lose in stoppage-time against Man Utd, but Roy Hodgson can at least take encouragement that his side were able to score and cause problems going forward without Wilfried Zaha. Indeed, the talismanic winger is expected to return earlier than expected along with key defender Mamadou Sakho which will provide the Eagles a much-needed boost.
Palace are W1-D1-L7 against the Big Six under Hodgson but four of these defeats where by just a single goal margin while two of the other three came in the ex-England manager’s first three games in charge when he inherited a side shot of confidence from Frank de Boer. The Blues will have one eye on their huge second-leg in Barcelona on Wednesday so we’re backing the visitors +1.5 on the Asian handicap at 2.03.
Weekend Team News Analysis
N.B. Appearances mentioned below relate to starting and completing an hour unless otherwise specified.
Everton v Brighton
Ashley Williams (CB), Everton
Williams saw red in their tie against Burnley which sees him suspended for Everton’s next three matches, including a mid-table clash against the Seagulls at Goodison Park this weekend. The Welshman has been a key man for the Toffees over the past two seasons, as they’ve conceded 1.75 goals per game in the 12 fixtures he’s missed compared to 1.31 GPG in the 55 matches with him. What’s more, the Merseyside club have conceded more than one goal in just 31% of their games with him compared to half of their games without him whilst only keeping one clean sheet in this time too.
West Ham v Burnley
Winston Reid (CB) and James Collins (CB), West Ham
It was a sad sight for Hammers fans as Winston Reid was stretchered off in his first game back from injury, just 27 minutes into the game which Swansea went on to win 4-1. To make things worse for the hosts, they’ll also be without James Collins, posing a serious injury crisis at the back. They’ve conceded more than one strike in 59% of their 12 matches without Reid this term, keeping just two clean sheets, compared to 47% of their games with him as they kept a clean sheet in 29% of these. What’s more, in the 18 fixtures where James Collins has been absent, they’ve conceded more than a single goal in 61% of their games versus just 36% in the 11 with him.
Nantes v Troyes
Charles Traore (LB), Troyes
Traore has missed just four games this season, and he’s been a key player to this Troyes side, who are currently sitting in the bottom three. The visitors are yet to win a match without the left back, and they’ve scored just twice in his absence. Despite playing left-back he’s played their second most passes and picked up their second most assists as he’s been a vital attacking outlet. With him in the starting line-up they’ve managed to win 33% of their games and score almost a goal per game. Moreover, Nantes won the previous fixture between these sides earlier in the season, while Troyes have lost each of their last nine on the road, conceding at least twice in seven of these.
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