Will the ref fall for Klopp’s mind games?

January 15, 2021

Round 19 sees 15 matches scheduled, but instead of going through the entire round just yet, what we are doing is taking things as Monday night, and we’ll finish off this set of predictions with Arsenal at home to Newcastle, before looking at what lies in store from Tuesday.

The big one that everyone is talking about is Liverpool at home to Manchester United, who have earned 29 points from their last 33 and they’re talking in the red half of Manchester about another title challenge.

They’re doing the same thing in the blue half of Manchester, and yes, they’re also doing that in the red part of Merseyside. So, it’s all to play for. I feel that Jurgen Klopp has been making all the right noises, doing a bit of “Sir Alex” with his reverse psychology ahead of a huge match between Nos 1 and 2 on the table. Klopp has been playing the injured party – literally and figuratively – and perhaps he has set the stage for some VAR controversy in the penalty area. It’s just a hunch that, given what he’s being saying about penalties of late, the referee will have the Liverpool manager’s voice ringing in his ears. 

In terms of the result trends for this season, it’s worth noting that these have been the only six scorelines that have occurred more than four times, so if you’re betting, be sure to factor that into your bets.

1-0: 35 times

1-1: 23 times

2-1: 23 times

2-0: 17 times

3-0: 15 times

0-0: 12 times

Here’s my calls for the weekend.

Wolves 1 West Brom 0: The “bounce” expected when Big Sam took over from Slaven Bilic hasn’t worked and he’s lost 3 of 4 League games (drawn with Liverpool though) and knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackpool. He’ll have worked on defence this past week. I’m thinking 0-0 at half-time and then Wolves to nick it in the 2nd half.

Leeds 2 Brighton 1: Leeds are the team who plays like there’s no scoreboard. They have scored 30 and conceded 33 League goals and lost 3-0 to minnows Crawley in the FA Cup. Brighton meanwhile have Percy Tau to add pace to their frontline and the Seagulls weren’t disgraced in losing 1-0 to Man City in midweek. Problem fro them is that playing well and losing is becoming a habit. They’ve won 2 of their 18 games. This should be free-flowing and go for +2.5 goals. 

West Ham 1 Burnley 0: Sean Dyche is doing what he always does at Burnley – take a limited team and avoid relegation while making them difficult to beat. They lost 1-0 to Man United in midweek and in fact have been involved in four 1-0s in their last six games. They’ve also had three 0-0s away from home. West Ham haven’t won at home since November though. 

Fulham 1 Chelsea 3: Fulham have drawn their last 5 games, including 1-1 at Spurs in midweek. Playing Spurs and Chelsea with their squad within 72 hours though is surely going to take is toll. Chelsea have been stumbling around and have slipped to 9th on the table. If they lose here surely Frank Lampard will be looking nervously at his incoming emails. But, they should have too much for what should be a weary Fulham in the last 20 minutes.

Leicester 2 Southampton 1: Leicester have won 3 from 8 at home and won 7 from 9 away. That’s worrying home form and Southampton visit on the back of a win over Liverpool. I’m tempted to go for the draw here but feel Jamie Vardy is “due” again so am probably going with the flow and in favour of the home side.  

Sheffield United 0 Tottenham 2: Jose will be fuming after conceding a late equaliser against Fulham. Sheffield United meanwhile got their first win of the season over the league most inconsistent club, Newcastle, and will be a touch more confident. Still, they’ve won 1 of 18 and have a -20 goal difference. It has to be 3 points for Tottenham.

Liverpool 2 Man United 1: Here we go, 1st plays 2nd, although the surprise is that it’s United who’ve come from well back and have won 9 of their last 11 League games and picked up 29 points out of 33. In the same period the champions have earned 20 points. Jurgen Klopp’s been making all the relevant “hard done by” noises and using reverse psychology that Sir Alex mastered. Who would be more happy with a draw here? United of course. I think on their day though Liverpool have the firepower to exploit the United defence.

Man City 3 Crystal Palace 0: City are now the favourites to win the league and have moved up to 3rd, four points behind Manchester rivals United. I’m waiting for City to hit their straps as well, despite the fact that they are unbeaten in their last 8 games. They just haven’t clicked in front of goal … yet. Palace’s away form hasn’t been great and they have lost at Burnley (1-0), Wolves (2-0), Villa (3-0) and Chelsea (4-0).

Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0: Arsenal were unable to win their 4th match on the trot on Thursday, against Crystal Palace., but they’re short-priced here against Newcastle, who I simply can’t catch right this season. Obviously, I’ll go with the flow and select Arsenal, but I’m not betting on them.

Best treble: Wins for Leeds, Chelsea, Tottenham (4.38-1 on GGGaming)

Also: Leeds/Brighton (both teams to score), Leicester/Southampton (both teams to score), Liverpool/Man United (both teams to score) 3.11-1

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