Liverpool host bottom of the table Swansea in the evening kick-off on Boxing Day. Jurgen Klopp’s side were involved in the most Liverpool of matches last Friday, as they drew 3-3 with Arsenal.
Even as 3-3s go, it was a ludicrous match. Liverpool’s fab four was in full flow, but their defensive hilarity was at its peak, too. That result keeps the Reds in fourth at Christmas. They could, however, be seven points behind Chelsea by the time their match begins on Merseyside.
Swansea, meanwhile, are four points from the safety of seventeenth. They have scored 11 goals in 19 Premier League matches and will – barring some shock between this piece being written and Boxing Day – be without a manager for this one.
Leon Britton is marshalling the troops as a result, and led his side to a 1-1 draw in his first match against Crystal Palace. A single point was probably a fair result, but it took a scorcher from Jordan Ayew to get the Swans on the board.
Attack is the issue rather than defence for the Welsh club. That said, stopping this Liverpool attack is almost impossible. Swansea will be given chances – or so you’d expect – but it’s a question of if they can frustrate Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, who may well all start again. I like the price of 21/20 on Swansea to score.
Salah is joint-top of the league scoring charts. Klopp’s smooth rotation might see the Egyptian given a rest, which is the greatest concern with backing him to score. He is lethal on the counter, and, should Liverpool take the lead, he’s a very good price to score the last goal at 13/5.
A longer price goal scorer option would be Coutinho. The Brazilian has shown form that would make the reported offers from Barcelona last summer seem significantly less silly. He has scored seven in his last nine appearances. At 4/1 to score first, he’s my pick of the market.
Liverpool might not dominate the ball quite as much as we might expect against a struggling side. Swansea average the eleventh highest possession in the league, and – due to the limitations of their squad – are forced into a slower build-up.
Lumping it direct to Tammy Abraham might be an option, but the visitors need to be able to retain the ball in midfield to avoid a consistent onslaught of Liverpool attack. Luckily, Britton has the players to do just that.
Swansea must be clinical, however. They are underperforming their expected goals so far this season, something they cannot afford to do if they are to have any hope of a shock festive treat.
It would be a great story for Britton to lead a Swansea revival - and he might do – but I cannot see it starting at Anfield. This could quickly become a case of damage limitation for Swansea, who must be worried about the prospect of losing by five or six. Klopp may rest players, though even then they will have too much firepower.
TIP: Liverpool to win 3-1 @ 19/2
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*