Liverpool look to bounce back to winning ways in the Champions League when Ajax arrive at Anfield on Tuesday night. Mark O'Haire shares his best bet...
"We can back a Liverpool win and Both Teams To Score at 2.60 – a profitable formula in four of the hosts’ six league and Champions League home triumphs this term."
Liverpool v Ajax
Tuesday December 1, 20:00
Liverpool denied at the death at Brighton
A controversial injury-time penalty denied Liverpool victory as the Reds were held at Brighton on Saturday afternoon. With the game at 1-0 heading into stoppage time, Andrew Robertson was adjudged to have kicked the foot of Danny Welbeck in the box. It was Brighton's second penalty of the game after Neal Maupay fired a first-half spot-kick wide.
In a VAR-heavy encounter, Liverpool thought they had taken the lead when Mohamed Salah latched onto a Roberto Firmino ball before firing home, but it was disallowed for offside. Diogo Jota broke the deadlock, with his ninth goal since joining the Reds, as he received Salah's pass before going past two defenders and firing into the bottom corner.
Substitute Sadio Mane believed he had sealed the game with a late header but that was also ruled out by the VAR for offside before the stoppage-time drama that allowed Brighton to level matters at The Amex. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp made six changes to his side but saw versatile James Milner added to the lengthily treatment table with a hamstring injury.
Ajax warm up with big win
Ajax warmed up for Tuesday night's pivotal tussle by easing to a 5-0 success at Emmen on Saturday. Davy Klaassen opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a fortunate finish after being set up by Lassina Traore. Zakaria Labyad then made it 2-0 with an excellent volley on the half-hour mark before 19-year-old Traore made it three before the break.
Head coach Erik ten Hag decided to bring on Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Quincy Promes for the second half as Dusan Tadic and Traore were given a rest. Nicolas Tagliafico, Daley Blind and David Neres were left out of the starting XI altogether but the Amsterdam side continued to dominate with substitute Jurgen Ekkelenjamp and Promes adding two further goals.
Last week the 17-year-old defender Devyne Rensch was named the Ajax talent of the year and the youngster was handed his first-team debut midway through the second period as attention turned towards Anfield. With Anthony returning to fold on Saturday, Mohammed Kudus is the visitors' only confirmed absentee for the midweek match-up in Merseyside.
Historical European heavyweights Liverpool and Ajax are locking horns for the fourth time in continental competition with the previous three meetings ending in an even split between a win each and a stalemate. The draw arrived at Anfield back in 1966/67, the only time in which the two teams have faced-off against each other on Merseyside.
Liverpool's 1.684/6 loss against Atalanta on MD4 ended a run of eight consecutive games without defeat in the group stage of the Champions League (W7-D1-L0). Pressure is now on the Reds to secure top honours and seal top spot in the pool, although Jurgen Klopp's charges have failed to fire in their past two outings - managing just two on-target attempts.
Ajax 5.104/1 haven't lost any of their last five away games against English sides in the Champions League (W1-D4-L0) and head to Anfield unbeaten in their past 11 games as guest in the competition (W7-D4-L0). The Amsterdam outfit have not been beaten by more than a one-goal margin in the Champions League in four years, a 34-match streak.
Both Liverpool and Ajax are synonymous with goals but Group D of the Champions League hasn't consistently produced the high-scoring showdowns promised when the draw was made. Only half of the eight pool games have provided Over 2.5 Goals 1.434/9 profit as Both Teams To Score 1.501/2 has clicked on only three occasions.
Encouragingly, Ajax have been involved in all three successful BTTS pay-outs and the Dutch giants showcased their attacking arsenal in an enjoyable 2-2 draw at Atalanta on MD2. With the Amsterdammers boasting a near full-strength squad, plenty to play for still in the pool, and both sides shipping over 1.25 xG on average in the group, there's an expectation of goals.
With Liverpool likely to revert to their strongest suit - at least in forward areas - I'm happy to support the Reds in a match featuring both sides scoring. Head to the Betfair Sportsbook and we can back a Liverpool win and Both Teams To Score at 2.608/5 - a profitable formula in four of the hosts' six league and Champions League home triumphs this term.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 46.00 pts
Returned: 55.70 pts
P/L: +9.70 pts