Stunning Sunday of Upsets in the Premier League
There will be plenty of smiling bookmakers today as the Premier League made it a very profitable weekend. United ended their neighbour’s winning run, and ‘six-times’ took on another meaning for Liverpool.
Manchester United Silence Noisy Neigbours
The Premier League is the gift that keeps on giving for bookmakers, with this year’s games almost becoming impossible to predict. And Sunday’s clash between City in first place against United, in second, but with a massive chasm between them, proves this point. United taking the three points in a comfortable 2-0 win against the runaway league leaders.
Pre-game, odds of 1/2 on a City victory meant a £20 wager only returned £10, but with City’s form going into the game, it was easy to understand why they were deemed dead certs. Before this game against their neighbours, City was on an incredible run of 21 consecutive victories in all competitions and have looked invincible in recent months. The last time the club suffered defeat was against Tottenham in the middle of November, 28 games ago.
United’s pre-game odds of 6/1 was indicative of United’s recent form, with the Red Devils not scoring a goal in their last three and having a poor record against the big teams this season. They have failed to beat a ‘big-six’ team this campaign and suffered heavily with a 6-1 defeat by Tottenham earlier in the season. Even with big money on offer, backers for the win market would have been mostly die-hard Manchester United fans.
Any suggestions that we would see a repeat of the 0-0 in the the 0-0 in the reverse of this fixture in mid-December were soon dismissed as United took a second-minute lead. Bruno Fernandes ending his barren spell against top opposition by converting a penalty that was awarded after just 30 seconds. City’s Gabriel Jesus making a forward’s tackle on Anthony Martial. Ederson in the City goal managed to get a hand to the shot but could not keep it out.
United’s fast start stunned City, and while they did control possession as the game progressed, they didn’t pose a real goal threat until after the break. Rodri went close when the game restarted, his shot hitting the top of the crossbar.
A few moments after the Rodri chance, United played to their greatest strength, hitting teams on the counterattack. Luke Shaw was one of several United players involved in a breakaway, and the left-back capped off a great performance by scoring in the 50th minute. His low shot doubled United’s lead after a clever interchange with Marcus Rashford.
City’s normally dependable stars offered little resistance. The excellent Kevin de Bruyne had a bad day at the office, making uncharacteristic mistakes in possession. Jesus offered little upfront, and Raheem Sterling’s poor record against United continued, the United defence restricting the England international to half-chances. It is highly unlikely this result will have any bearing on the Premier League trophy destination, though. Even in defeat, City has a commanding eleven points lead at the top of the table with ten games left to play.
For United, it gives a much-needed boost in their battle to secure a top-four finish. Seven clubs have a realistic chance of taking the three spots left if City wins the league, so every point is vital. United faces AC Milan in the Europa League round of 16 on Thursday.
Liverpool Lose Again At Anfield
If United’s win at the Etihad was the main course for bookmakers, the preceding game between champions Liverpool and relegation-threatened Fulham was a fitting starter with the London club taking all three points at Anfield. Liverpool’s fall from grace is incredible by any standards. Winning the Premier League at a canter by a margin of 18 points last campaign, the Reds look shot of confidence as seen in this 1-0 defeat by the club in eighteenth place.
The Merseyside club had been legendary at home; before a surprise defeat against Brighton at the beginning of February, Liverpool had gone 68 games at home without tasting defeat. Further defeats against Manchester City, Everton, and Chelsea followed, which meant that Liverpool had lost five home games in-a-row for their first time in their long history. This defeat creates a new low, and to make matters worse, Wigan’s 3-0 win on Saturday at Milton Keynes Dons means Liverpool has the fewest home points of any team in England’s top four divisions in 2021.
Klopp made seven changes to the team that lost to Chelsea, looking for more energy in his side; Sadio Mane, Thiago, Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold were among those that gave way. Although these team changes may well have inadvertently inspired Fulham, either sensing a potential lack of understanding from their opponents or a degree of disrespect.
Fulham looked the more dangerous of the sides. Ademola Lookman was causing havoc for the Liverpool defence and managed to get beyond them twice early on. Alisson also saved from Josh Maja, putting himself in the way of the Nigerian striker.
Fulham was rewarded for their attacking intent, Mario Lemina disposing Mohamed Salah to give his side the lead at the end of the first half. Liverpool had a few chances; Dioga Jota in his first start of the year, produced a great save from Alphonse Areola in the Fulham goal at the beginning of the second half. Sadio Mane hit the post with a header, but you never sensed the urgency or desire in this Liverpool side.
Take nothing from Fulham though, since the end of January, Scott Parker’s men had only lost two games, a 2-0 defeat against Leicester and a 1-0 lose against Tottenham in nine games. Picking up vital wins against Everton and fellow strugglers Sheffield United in those nine. This win puts them level with Brighton in 17th and within a point of Newcastle in 16th. Fulham looked certainties for the drop, but this run has made the impossible look possible.
Fulham had been 5/1 pre game, Liverpool 10/6 with the draw @ 3/1.
The surprise movement is in the next manager to be sacked market. Absolutely unthinkable six months ago, Klopp is now the second favourite to be the next manager to be sacked @ 9/2. Only Newcastle’s Steve Bruce is ahead of the German in that betting market; the Newcastle boss is priced @ 7/4 to lose his job.
The weekend got off to a flying start for bookmakers with Arsenal drawing 1-1 with Burnley in the first game. As Arsenal were expected to win against 15th placed Burnley, many accumulators fell.
Kindred Group’s Ali Gil said of the weekend games: “Tough to call which was the bigger shock in football terms, high flying Manchester City on a 21-game winning streak being beaten at home by Manchester United, or a hugely out-of-form Liverpool team being beaten at home again, for a sixth time in a row, by relegation-threatened Fulham.
“The Liverpool loss was our best result of the weekend overall, with Arsenal’s draw to Burnley and City’s loss being not too far behind, leaving very few accas alive and kicking by the end of the weekend as well,” Gil added.