After Manchester City’s “unbelievable” 1-0 loss to Sunderland Liverpool have a chance to shake up the Premier League further.

The second biggest story of last weekend’s games was City’s 1-0 defeat away to Sunderland thanks to a 93rd minute winner, utterly against the run of play. City had 59% of possession, 11 shots on target and 14 off target (compared to Sunderland’s five and three) but it was the Black Cats who took all three points and kept the title race as close as close can be!

Roberto ManciniLiverpool halted a frustrating run of draws at Anfield with a consummate display that was just what the doctor ordered (and just what this handicapper predicted) when they took Newcastle down 3-1 at Anfield the night before New Year’s Eve. It was the sort of performance that rekindled talk Liverpool being title contenders, although it was the results of the surrounding teams that spoke the loudest; with Chelsea falling down 3-1 against Aston Villa, Tottenham only managing a 1-1 draw against Swansea and Arsenal scraping past QPR 1-0.

Besides sitting in sixth place in the table, Liverpool are now four points ahead of seventh place Newcastle (a comfortable buffer), but more importantly they are tied on points with fifth place Chelsea (who are just four goals better off) and two points behind fourth place Arsenal (tied on a +9 goal difference). Liverpool are still outside bets to win the league at 150/1 (as a comparison Arsenal are 40/1 and Spurs are 14/1) but they are now 9/4 to record a top four finish (and 1/16 on a top six finish) and will fancy their chances against a City side who have failed to score in their last two matches.

Happy travellers

Liverpool’s away form reads five wins, one draw and three losses, but they have scored 10 and conceded seven on their travels. With points dropped (against the run of play) against Chelsea, West Brom and Sunderland; City can ill afford to underestimate the Scousers, especially if Steven Gerrard takes to the pitch. Captain Fantastic (who had endured a torrid 2011 that saw him make just 15 appearances for Liverpool due to injuries) made a cameo appearance against Newcastle and despite being on the pitch for only 30 minutes had a huge influence on the game and rounded out his run out with a goal and the man of the match award. With Gerrard in the side Liverpool could beat anyone, and he’s likely to be hungry for game play after so long on the sidelines. It’s also worth considering that Andy Carroll is a hair breath away from going on a goal rampage (I’m still scratching my head at the fact he failed to score against his old club on Friday) and Gerrard might be the one to deliver the service he requires.

Don’t forget that Liverpool have only lost once in the league in 14 games (an odd 1-0 against Fulham) and have only failed to score in five of their 19 league games this season clocking up 24 goals and conceding just 15. It’s worth a bet on a Liverpool win at 7/2 in the soccer odds and at Carroll to open the scoring at 9/1. I do feel that City will match whatever Liverpool throw at them and they can’t have three nonsensical results on the bounce…can they?

Mega City One

Despite their recent form, Manchester City are still the team on top of the table and you don’t get to lead Manchester United on the 1st of January by chance. The stats on Manchester City are impressive 14 wins from 19 games with 53 goals scored, but their home form is even more intimidating. Out of nine home games they’ve not dropped a single point with nine straight wins and 28 goals scored (with just four conceded). If you think City are therefore due a home loss go ahead and back Liverpool (good luck if you do) but back a low score. I consider that sort of form just too much for Liverpool to deal with. 

Surely City are due a win, and goals!

In the last five meetings between these sides (dating back to November 2009) there have been three draws (0-0, 1-1 and 2-2) and two victories both by the same scoreline and both to the home side. Liverpool won 3-0 in April this year and City won 3-0 in February 2010. Another 3-0 home victory is at 14/1 while any draw is at 5/2. I don’t think either is likely although a draw would please plenty of the sides in the top six. It’s going to be close but I think City will win and Liverpool will get on the scoresheet. You might want to have a bet on Liverpool leading at the break and City winning the game at 25/1, or a draw at half time before a City win at 7/2.

As an aside you might want to bet on a fair few yellows and even a sending off in this match as both teams are overflowing with “passion”, City will be frustrated up to their eyeballs, and the last time that these teams met (a 1-1 draw at Anfield in late November) there were five players book and City played the last ten minutes with ten men after Mario “why Always Me” Balotelli was given his marching orders.

Prediction: City win 2-1 at 15/2.