Liverpool v Swansea
Live on Sky Sports 1
Liverpool toiled again in the cup on Wednesday night, eventually overcoming Plymouth at Home Park 0-1, but not before suffering a scare towards the end of the game when the Pilgrims hit the post and almost took the game to extra time. That's three times now the Reds have looked unconvincing in a cup competition - two of those admittedly with an under-strength side - and their recent league form is fairly average too; two draws, one a creditable one against Man United and one a 2-2 stalemate against struggling Sunderland.
In fairness to Jurgen Klopp's men, they've been without some key players through the spine of their team. Joel Matip is their best defender and he's caught in an admin nightmare with the Cameroon FA and FIFA meaning he can't be risked, lest the Reds get punished with a points deduction, Jordan Henderson is finding his full fitness after absence, and the same can be said of Philippe Coutinho. What's more, Sadio Mane, their most dynamic attacking player this season is away at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Swansea present a different challenge, but one that Liverpool should use to get back on the horse and start winning again.
At first glance, it was a baptism of fire for Paul Clement in his first league game as Swansea boss. On paper they were hammered by Arsenal, but for the first period of the game they looked ok, and a lot hinged on a penalty appeal they had turned down when losing just 0-1 to the Gunners. Had they been awarded that (and it was a reasonable shout), it may well have been a different story.
It may not have been though, of course, and Clement and his team can't afford to worry about that now. This is probably an even tougher assignment than the Arsenal game given that it's on the road, but a positive result could even see the Swans climb out of the relegation zone should results go their way and that should be motivation enough at this stage of the season.
If Swansea are to get anything here, they'll need to do it without Jefferson Montero and Neil Taylor. Both players are injured. Tom Carroll is available for selection after signing from Tottenham.
I've made a fair amount of Liverpool's dodgy form here, and with good reason, but I don't actually think they'll struggle to beat Swansea on Saturday lunchtime. Unfortunately (and somewhat predictably) though, the market agrees. 1.232/9 is the price available on a Liverpool win, and it's not surprising given they've not been beaten at home in the league all season.
You'll get a massive 16.015/1 on the Swansea win, and no wonder. The Swans have never won at Anfield in the Premier League and have only won once on the road since the opening day of the season. It would be fanciful to suggest they can pick up a win here.
The Draw is a chunky-looking 7.613/2.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
First instinct when looking at these prices is that Overs, at 1.4840/85, is very short. Liverpool have only scored more than twice in a game once in their last eight, and one of their last six (and none of their last four) have gone Overs. There are mitigating circumstances for some of that, but even considering that, those stats are stark.
Unders is available at 2.9215/8, and it might be an angle to back that and look to trade, but we'll only get value on that if no-one scores early. So approach with caution.
All things considered, Liverpool are a far better side than Swansea and this looks like the best market to play in, in order to get a bit of a return on a home win. We should be able to back this at about 1.784/5 nearer to kick off, and that for me represents value. The Premier League table tells us that Clement's side have the worst defence in the top flight, conceding well over two goals a game on average, and that Liverpool are the top scorers in the division.
Back Liverpool-1 at 1.784/5