Fast-learning Liverpool chief holds the cards in the title race
Some funny things are going on up north, with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho reported suggesting life at his new club is a ‘disaster’ and Manchester City gaffer Pep Guardiola quoted saying he is ‘still learning about football in this country’.
They should both be worried after winning just one of their past six Premier League matches, in United’s case, and none of the last five in all competitions, as the recent form of 6/4 title favourites City reads.
One or the other has to emerge victorious from tonight’s EFL Cup tie at Old Trafford – where the visitors look overpriced at 19/10 after beating United 2-1 on the road last month – but neither are living up to their pre-season billing as likeliest teams to top the Premier League pile.
Guardiola’s side are only ahead of Arsenal and Liverpool, who were fourth and fifth favourites for the title going into the campaign, on goal difference and travel to a West Brom side playing out of their skins at the weekend, followed by the visit of Barcelona in the Champions League three days later.
Failure to break down Tony Pulis’ stubborn outfit would probably see City knocked off top spot by either the Gunners or the Reds, with Jurgen Klopp and co looking the biggest threat.
Liverpool are second favourites at 16/5 ahead of Arsenal at 5/1, with no European football to worry about and an EFL Cup quarter-final place already booked after seeing off a scratch Spurs XI 2-1 at Anfield.
Guardiola practically admitted that he didn’t quite realise the energy levels needed to sustain winning runs in the Premier League, whereas Klopp recently celebrated his first year in England, having consolidated after a poor start in the top flight and reaching the Europa League final last term.
Being able to write off most of a campaign while giving fans a night out at one of the most prestigious games in world football – and almost bagging a Champions League place because of it – makes Klopp’s October 2015 switch to Anfield seem all the shrewder.
The 49-year-old shipped out half a dozen first-teamers and brought in as many replacements over the summer, adding to an expensively-assembled pool of players including Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne, all of whom have gone well under Klopp.
Five wins in their past six Premier League games puts Liverpool in the same form as Arsenal, but the Merseysiders’ path to success – along with their manager’s obvious confidence and desire – makes them the value bet for a first title in 27 years.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.