Manchester City (-105) vs Liverpool (+300), Draw (+300)
Manchester City (2-1-0, 7 points) will host Liverpool (2-1-0, 7 points) on September 9th for the fourth fixture of the 2017-18 English Premier League season. Both sides are currently sitting on two wins and one draw.
After a wild summer spending spree that totaled €244 million, Manchester City are aiming for nothing less than the title this season. The defensive weaknesses that plagued them all last season are now, hopefully, a thing of the past. After paying top dollar for defenders like Benjamin Mendy (€57.5 million), Kyle Walker (€51 million), and Danilo (€31 million), City now have one of the toughest defenses in the league, perhaps only rivaled by Manchester United. On top of that, they have their newly acquired keeper, Ederson (€40 million).
Contrast that to Liverpool, who spent just €51 million total over the summer. Aside from Roma’s Mohamed Salah (€42 million), the Reds didn’t make any notable acquisitions. To put that in perspective, Man City spent more on Mendy than Liverpool spent over the entire transfer window.
At the moment, Liverpool are more concerned with hanging onto their players than snapping up new ones. Star winger Philippe Coutinho is still jockeying for a move to Barcelona and has requested to be left out of Liverpool’s Champions League squad as he continues to force the move.
Coutinho’s absence has noticeable in the opening games, but Liverpool’s managed where it matters: in the standings. With players like Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Daniel Sturridge up front, they still have a ton of goalscoring options. However, what makes Coutinho so valuable is his creativity in midfield. Without their cerebral playmaker, they could struggle to go toe-to-toe against Guardiola’s trademark style of play.
Manchester City are finally the squad Guardiola envisioned when he took over last season, though their performances this year have had a handful of nervous moments. They managed to grind out a shaky 2-1 victory over Bournemouth in the last round and before that they played Everton to a 1-1 draw.
Liverpool are clearly the underdogs in this match-up. Playing Man City at Etihad will be one of the toughest challenges they’ll face this season and they’ll likely be without their star player. Still, Liverpool are known to exceed expectations against the top teams (and then lose to bottom-table clubs) and they’re riding high after a 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal. At +300, the Reds have too much value to pass up.
Featured photo: Phillipe Coutinho (by Kevin Walsh [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)])
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