Liverpool (18th) at Everton (17th) / Goodison Park / 8:30 AM ET – After seven games played, it’s still considered to be relatively early in the Premiership season. Unfortunately for Liverpool, the team has already entered into the situation where every single game falls into the “must win” category. Despite continued high expectations for the squad and the consistent optimism by the players and coaches, the team has yet to show any real signs of life. Since earning their only win of the season so far over a month ago, Liverpool has failed to build on that result. After a 0-0 draw at Birmingham City, the team has drawn one and lost two, allowing 7 goals in the process. This highlights the fact that, despite the sub-par performances of star striker Fernando Torres, the team’s biggest problems have been on the defensive end. Even after bad performances in pretty much every game up to this point, Liverpool continues to get respect by the oddsmakers. At this point, it seems clear to me that this is due mostly to the team’s name and reputation. However, with elite players like Torres and Steven Gerrard in the lineup, you have to think that, at some point, Liverpool will finally get its act together and become at least a respectable team this season. It feels like we say this every week, but Liverpool has a good opportunity for that breakout performance this weekend when they visit Everton. Despite coming off of their first win of the season, the Toffees have had problems finding consistent scoring options. Like Liverpool, they have underachieved by a huge margin this season. But, given that both teams have been equally bad so far this season, the tiebreaker has to go to the side with more talent. In this case, the easy winner is Liverpool.
Take Liverpool on the moneyline in this one at +200. A 2-1 final score is a good possibility in this one, so the over 2½ is a solid bet.
Manchester City (4th) at Blackpool (10th) / Bloomfield Road / 11:00 AM ET – Blackpool was one of my pre-season dark horse picks to perform well this season, and so far, they have made me look good. The 2010-11 Premiership season marks the side’s first trip into England’s top division in over 40 years, and they have continued to make the most of it. Even though their last game was a victory over less-than-impressive Liverpool, it’s still a huge win for a newly promoted team, especially given that the game was on the road at Anfield. However, as I’ve also said previously regarding Blackpool, they are a solid middle-of-the-pack team, so they’ll do well against average teams, but struggle mightily against the elites of the EPL. Unfortunately for them, it is one of those elite teams that they’ll be hosting on Sunday. After some early season struggles, Manchester City has improved each week. They have won their last three in a row, including a huge 1-0 victory against Chelsea. Head coach Roberto Mancini seems to have finally figured out how to effectively maximize the talent of striker Carlos Tevez. After over-thinking how to use him on the field, Mancini finally figured the simple solution: leave Tevez up top, and let him wreak havoc in the opposition’s defense. Since this subtle change in strategy, Man. City has become both more consistent on offense and more effective on defense. Although Blackpool has the ruggedness to match that of Tevez, they will face the same gap in talent that has hurt them against all the elite teams. As they do very week, Blackpool will leave it all out on the field, but the team will ultimately be overwhelmed by the world-class talent that Manchester City will have on the field. This one should be close early, but Man. City will eventually impose its will, gain control of the match, and ultimately win this one comfortably.
Take Manchester City at -1 here at Bodog or Pinnacle. Because of Blackpool’s never-say-die attitude, this one could be low scoring, so the under 2½ at +120 has good value.