It’s time to turn attention away from the oval shaped American Football, to the spherical soccer ball as we shift focus across the Atlantic Ocean to a quintet of top soccer matches taking place this weekend in four of European soccer’s most popular leagues.
Outlined below is a longer look of Saturday’s big clash at Anfield with four shorter previews of each of Sunday’s four key games, each with our insider tip on who we think will be the winner and any other bets that we like the look of for each match up.
Saturday 8th February
English Premier League: Liverpool (4th) V Arsenal (1st)
Quite simply for Liverpool, it is a must win game if they are to have any chance of staying in touch with the top three.
Arsenal now lead the way in the Premier League and Arsene Wenger’s men have a good record at Anfield recently, including a fine 2-1 victory there last season.
Liverpool will rely heavily on the striking prowess of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez who have terrorised Premier League defences all season long.
Backed up by Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, the Reds look irresistible at Anfield at times, however defensively they have looked very shaky at times with four key defenders (Johnson, Henrique, Agger and Sakho) all out injured.
Arsenal are missing Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott but are otherwise in good shape. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was back amongst the goals last weekend and the Gunners’ counter-attacking style will cause Liverpool lots of problems. Wenger’s men are also in great form at the present winning five and drawing one of their last six matches.
That said Liverpool are due a win over Arsenal, especially at Anfield, and we think a passionate home support will roar the home side to a narrow victory here.
Take Liverpool to win at a best price of 11/10 with Paddy Power and Bet365.
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Daniel Sturridge has been amongst the goals of late for Liverpool since his return from injury and you can get the Liverpool man to be first goalscorer at 5/1 with Paddy Power.
A better bet though could be Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard as an anytime goalscorer, which you can take at 10/3 with Bet365, while Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, who is due a goal, is a 15/4 shot in the same market.
Sunday 9th February
English Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur (6th) v Everton (5th)
A huge game for both teams as they seek to close the gap on Liverpool in fourth. Spurs have improved under new manager Tim Sherwood and look a much more potent attacking force, if less resilient defensively.
Everton though bounced back well after a 4-0 mauling in the Merseyside derby to defeat Aston Villa 2-1 last time out, thanks to a spectacular Kevin Mirallas freekick.
This will be a hard fought game between two well matched teams and it’s hard to see a clear cut winner here. Indeed, with Everton just having the edge in current form, it’s tempting to back the Toffee’s but Spurs are a strong home side and this is too close to call, hence us suggesting the best bet here is the 12/5 available with Paddy Power, 888 Sport and Bet365 on a draw.
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Both teams have been amongst the goals of late and I think this game has the potential to see both teams score at least one, if not two goals apiece.
Therefore, I’d take the 17/20 on offer with Bet365 on this game having Over 2.5 Goals.
Serie A (Italy): Lazio (9th) v Roma (2nd)
The Rome derby is always a huge game that evokes fierce passion from both sets of fans but Lazio come into the game after a disappointing season, though their recent form (unbeaten in five) is much better.
Roma won the corresponding game 2-0 earlier in the season and will want a similar result to keep them in with a chance of catching leaders Juventus who lead the Serie A table by nine points.
On paper, Roma are clearly the better team but derby games are always difficult to predict, that said, we still fancy the visitors to snatch the points here, so we are backing Roma to win at 21/20 with Paddy Power or Bet365.
Roma have conceded a goal in their last four away games, so we’d take the 4/5 on offer with 888 Sport on both teams scoring in this match.
For a longer odds bet, take Roma to win 2-1 at 8/1 with Paddy Power.
Ligue One (France): Monaco (2nd) v Paris St. Germain (1st)
It’s the cash derby in France where moneybags Monaco take on the Euro-laden Paris St Germain in the game between France’s top two, both in terms of financial power and league position.
Monaco must get something from the game as they are five points behind PSG and with a markedly inferior goal difference, but they will sorely miss their injured Colombian striker Radamel Falcao.
Therefore, it’s easy to see why home advantage and a cleaner bill of health puts PSG in the driving seat here. The teams drew 1-1 earlier in the season in Monaco, but we expect PSG to take the points here.
Back them at 6/5 with 888 Sport, Bet365 or Paddy Power.
Can Dimitar Berbatov make a goalscoring debut for Monaco in the biggest game of the season?
He is 13/2 to score the opening goal in this game, but our tip here is the man for the big occasion, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is 7/2 for the opening goal with Bet365.
Portuguese League: Benfica (1st) v Sporting Lisbon (2nd)
The Lisbon derby is one of the most keenly contested in Europe and the sides played out a 1-1 draw in the corresponding game earlier this season.
With home advantage and a gap of two points over their guests today, Benfica are the bookies favourites and its not difficult to see why. Sporting are vastly improved this season over last, but they lack the depth of squad and quality of their city rivals.
Both sides were held to a draw last time out which allowed FC Porto to close the gap on them both, but we can’t see another draw here, home advantage just edges us towards Benfica who are a 4/5 shot with SkyBet, Bet365 and Paddy Power.
Sporting Lisbon have really struggled for goals recently, drawing three of their last four games 0-0. As such, against Benfica’s tight defence, it is hard to see them scoring. Take Benfica to win this one 1-0 at a best price of 13/2 with Bet365 or Paddy Power.