Aston Villa have an enviable recent record at Anfield and having started the season impressively could cause an upset this Saturday afternoon. Jaymes Monte picks out his best bets...
"Sturridge’s absence means that Brendan Rodgers will need to shuffle his pack..."
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Live on Sky Sports 1
An opening day win over Southampton was followed by a humbling 3-1 defeat to Manchester City the following week and subsequent tempering of expectations at Anfield this season. Those aspirations were then rekindled somewhat by an excellent 3-0 win at White Hart Lane in which Raheem Sterling was particularly impressive as he scored his second goal of the season.
The Reds have won eight of their last nine home games coming into this one but have a particularly poor recent record against Aston Villa here. Liverpool have not won any of the last three meetings on Merseyside, while Villa boss Paul Lambert has never experienced defeat at Anfield as a manager.
Summer signings Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert do have particularly good records against the Midlands club, with the Italian scoring four - including his only Premier League hat-trick - in two games and the Englishman having netted three times in four Premier League clashes with Villa.
Daniel Sturridge looks set to miss up to three weeks following a thigh injury picked up in training for England, while both Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel are battling to overcome injuries that kept them out of the Tottenham win.
Suffice to say that Aston Villa's start to the season - seven points from three Premier League games - has exceeded most pre-season expectations for the Villans. However, there is also an argument to say that in Stoke, Newcastle and Hull they are yet to cause any sort of major upset in the results that they have earned.
Nevertheless, it's a solid start to the campaign for Lambert's side and means that they can come into this game with a nothing-to-lose attitude.
As mentioned above, Villa do have an encouraging recent record at Anfield and having conceded only once in three Premier League fixtures this season will be confident of taking something from the game.
Andreas Weimann has scored two of Villa's three goals this season and also scored on each of his last two visits to Anfield. But Liverpool will be thankful for Christian Benteke's injury with the Belgian having scored four goals in four previous meetings.
Benteke may be joined on the sidelines by club captain Ron Vlaar who is expected to undergo a late fitness test following a calf injury sustained against Hull a fortnight ago.
It's no surprise to see Liverpool made strong favourites for all three points here, but at 1.331/3 they do look a little on short side. Villa's amicable start to the season, particularly their defensive frugality, coupled with their recent record at Anfield means that I'm happy to oppose the hosts at prohibitively short odds.
Sturridge's absence means that Brendan Rodgers will need to shuffle his pack a little, and as we saw against Spurs there is no guarantee that Balotelli will make an immediate impact in a red shirt.
Over/Under 2.5 goals
The market also seems - perhaps as a consequence of the Match Odds prices - to have the Over/Under 2.5 goals prices wrong. Well it does in the opinion of yours truly anyway.
As mentioned above, Sturridge's absence is a big blow to Liverpool, while Villa's defensive record is - along with Swansea - the best in the embryonic 2014/15 Premier League. At the other end of the pitch our Opta stats inform us that the Villans are the only top flight side with more points on the board (7) than shots on target (5) this season. The recipe is for a low scoring game and at odds of 2.68/5 Under 2.5 Goals is a standout punt.
Sidemarket Selection - Villa Clean Sheet
If you've been paying attention to this point then you'll be able to guess where I'm going with this... yep, back the Yes selection in this market at a whopping 11.521/2.
Including international fixtures Brad Guzan has conceded just one goal in over five hours of football this season, while, perhaps coincidentally, Liverpool failed to score in the last game that Daniel Sturridge did not start.
I appreciate that I'm putting a lot of my eggs into one basket with my selections, but I strongly believe that Villa's chances have been underestimated (or Liverpool's overestimated) this weekend and there is huge value in this selection at double figure odds.
2pts Back Under 2.5 goals @ 2.68/5
0.5pts Back Villa clean sheet @ 11.521/2
Listen to betting.betfair Editor Mike Norman as he briefly previews the game and suggests a wager on Liverpool's new striker to get on the scoresheet on his Anfield debut...
Jaymes Monte 2014/15 Season P/L
Staked: 0 pts
Returned: 0 pts
P/L: 0 pts