Premier League: Liverpool eye winning return

16 January 2022 03:29:44 GMTPlus11
Thomas Frank will feel his Brentford side have a point to prove

Two Premier League games take the headlines on Sunday, with intriguing contests at both Anfield and the London Stadium.

Liverpool fans will tell you their showdown with Brentford is a big deal in their pursuit of Manchester City in the title race.

Those who might be spotting a few chinks in the Anfield armour, especially in these AFCON times, might mischievously suggest the match has implications in the Reds' quest merely to make the top four.

Securing a top-four finish is certainly the dream of West Ham, who take on Leeds, and have very recent history on their side.

Can Moyes' men put the Hammer down in top-four race?

Any thoughts West Ham might quietly fade out of top-four running after a bright start look completely unfounded as the Hammers continue to turn up the heat on those around them.

They made it four wins in a row by beating Norwich 2-0 on Wednesday, Jarrod Bowen scoring both and immediately entering the 'must-play-for-England' conversation, a chat someone like Mark Noble - who also plays for West Ham and therefore must have been touted himself once upon a time - will doubtless tell the winger to ignore. Except, of course, that it was Moyes who initiated it.

Anyway, there's little doubt Bowen is flying, so too many of those around him which is why they are 8/13 to take care of Leeds, a team they beat only last weekend in the FA Cup.

Indeed, the Hammers did the double over Marcelo Bielsa's men in the Premier League last season and also won 2-1 at Elland Road in September.

Moyes' men are actually only two points better off than they were after 21 games last term though Leeds are significantly worse off than 12 month ago but blessed by the fact that the four teams below them are seriously struggling.

Leeds beat Burnley 3-1 in their last league game to ease pressure on Marcelo Bielsa (who most Whites' fans wouldn't trade for anyone) who could do almost certainly do with bringing in a few players in this window just to allay any lingering fears they could get dragged into bother.

PositionTeamPoints
16Leeds  19
17Watford  13
18Burnley  11
19Newcastle  11
20Norwich  10

Leaky Bees have grounds for concern

Brentford are also shipping goals (though not quite at Leeds' level) and them conceding the first goal at Liverpool looks like a certainty - they've leaked the first goal in 12 of their last 13 Premier League matches.

It's commendable then that the Bees have managed to win three and draw two of those 13 fixtures, but there's plenty of evidence suggesting them being dragged into a relegation scrap.

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Their next four games are against Liverpool, Manchester United, Wolves and Manchester City, hardly appetising, and first up is the trip to Anfield where they are a 11/1 shot. Jurgen Klopp's men are chalked up at 2/9.

Klopp has issues of his own to resolve with injuries, a brisk turnaround after the Thursday night showdown with Arsenal in the League Cup plus, of course, the absence of his prized strike-force, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, the duo who between them boast 46 per cent of Liverpool's league goal tally.

Given the outcry from Arsenal fans at pictures of Klopp giving the highly-prized and one-time Anfield target Bukayo Saka a longer-than-customary cuddle at the final whistle on Thursday, Bees' fans have doubtless resigned themselves to the Reds' boss seeking out Ivan Toney for post-whistle hugs and small-talk on Sunday. Toney incidentally is 17/2 to open the scoring at Anfield - longer odds than James Milner.

Goals could be a feature at Anfield

While the Reds may have kept a clean sheet in their 0-0 against Arsenal, they too have not been as secure as seasons past.

That was Klopp's side's first shutout in seven games and a home win and both to score is 15/8 and is worth a look condsidering the pair's most recent meeting.

Few will have forgotten September's 3-3 draw and another share of the spoils comes in at 11/2

Another 3-3 will tempt some at 80/1, while the slightly tamer over 3.5 goals is 11/8.

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Thomas Frank will feel his Brentford side have a point to prove