For the first time in their long rivalry, Liverpool and Manchester United meet in a European competition, with a place in the Europa League quarter-finals and plenty of pride at stake.
Liverpool who beat Augsburg in the last round, have lost just once in the last ten games, excluding extra time or penalties. The Reds got sweet revenge on Manchester City after their League Cup final loss, with a 3-0 win in the Premier League in midweek and then came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 2-1 on Sunday.
Man.United, who beat Midtjylland to reach the last sixteen had their run of four successive wins ended by West Brom on Sunday, with the Red Devils forced to play over an hour of the game with ten men. United’s injury crisis meant that Louis Van Gaal didn’t have the luxury of squad rotation, with only Marouane Fellaini afforded a break.
With Man United winning the last four competitive meetings, Liverpool are slightly surprising favourites to win the game at 23/2 (2.15) with Betfred, while Man United’s best chance according to bookmakers, is the draw at 12/5 (3.40) also with Betfred. Those looking to back United to win, can get 3/1 (4.00) generally which offers some value considering the Red Devils have won on their last two visits to Anfield.
Liverpool dominate the ‘First Goalscorer’ betting, with Daniel Sturridge favourite at an attractive 5/1 with Paddy Power, followed by teammates, Christian Benteke, Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino who are all 6/1 with Coral. However, England striker Sturridge, was an unused substitute on Sunday and is likely to start the match on Thursday.
Man United’s main goal threat comes from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, both 15/2 with Skybet to score first, with Frenchman Martial a better option as an “Anytime Scorer” at 3/1 with Betway.
In the last eight meetings between the two, some 20 goals have been scored and I expect more goals in this first leg. 888Sport are offering 7/5 for “Over 2.5 Goals” which looks a solid choice, especially if you are a new customer with 888 as you can get treble the odds on your first bet with them up to £10. Those looking at disciplinary bets, can take 3/1 with BetVictor for a red card to be shown.
This should be a cracker of a game, with these old rivals going hammer and tong at each other. I fancy the draw here and an optimistic 2-2 draw at that, which is available at 18/1 with William Hill.