Given the lengthy list of Manchester United defenders who have scored in matches against Liverpool, Ladbrokes may be taking a risk in offering odds of 25/1 for Chris Smalling to score first at Old Trafford this weekend.
Gary Pallister, Mikael Silvestre, Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea and Wes Brown are among the United defenders who have found the net against their Merseyside rivals in the past, and it could pay dividends to look to the backline as a source of goals for the upcoming future.
Smalling himself has outlined his desire to chip in with goals, telling the official Manchester United website: “I’m definitely working hard on my role at corners and free-kicks in order to make an impact.
“When I joined, one or two of the coaches pointed out that they were looking for goals from the centre-halves. Obviously Nemanja Vidic scores a few and if you can add goals to your armoury it’s a massive plus point.
“Hopefully I’ll keep finding the net and contribute a bit more in the future. I don’t want us to be relying all the time on the strikers for goals.”
The former Fulham defender has already scored twice this season, in games against Manchester City and Chelsea, and given the nature of those fixtures, the 22-year-old seems to thrive in the types of big-game atmosphere that Saturday will bring.
He is 8/1 to hit the net at any time during the game, and with set-piece specialist Ashley Young back to full fitness and expected to start, these odds look generous.
Jonny Evans is likely to also feature in the Red Devils’ defence, and the Northern Irishman is lengthier at 33/1 to open the scoring with his first ever Manchester United goal and 10/1 to bag at any time.
Meanwhile, the only defender with experience of scoring against Liverpool, Ferdinand, can be backed at 12/1 to notch in the 90 minutes, or a big 40/1 to strike the opener.