Anfield anguish for United

Liverpool head into Sunday’s clash against Manchester United in the happy position of being at the top of the Premier League table and having sealed their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Little more could have made it a better first four months of the campaign for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who remain unbeaten in the top-flight without ever really hitting the attacking heights of last term.

United may have won 13 league titles since Liverpool’s last triumph, almost three decades ago, but Jose Mourinho’s team are, if anything, further away from mounting a challenge for top spot than at any time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure five-and-half-years ago.

Goals at a premium

Despite easing to a 4-1 victory against rock-bottom Fulham at Old Trafford last weekend, United were dreadful at Valencia on Wednesday. They remain in grave danger of missing out on a top-four spot for the fourth time in the last six campaigns and are currently 8.00 to finish in the top four.

There has been a shortage of goals in this fixture in the last seven years with a combined total of just 10 being scored in that time, while the last two matches at Anfield have ended goalless.

A similar result on Sunday would be regarded as a success by Mourinho but so poor have his side been defensively this season, that it seems inconceivable that they could keep a clean sheet against Klopp’s myriad of attacking options.

It does not promise to be a high-scoring encounter but Liverpool should extend their unbeaten start to the campaign to 17 matches by winning by a one-goal margin at 3.45, while Roberto Firmino is 6.00 to score the first goal.

Hazard struggling for goals

Chelsea cantered to a 4-0 victory at Brighton last season, but Maurizio Sarri’s team can expect a tougher test when they visit the Amex Stadium this weekend.

Eden Hazard scored twice against the Seagulls in that January clash, but the Belgium international has not netted a Premier League goal since the 3-0 victory at Southampton in early October. As rumours persist regarding his future, his barren run of seven games is not helping matters.

However, he remains Chelsea’s top scorer in the league with seven but the travails in front of goal for Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud mean the Blues are always going to struggle to finish teams off.

Ending Manchester City’s unbeaten start to the campaign last weekend was an exceptional achievement, but Chelsea had only picked up four points from their previous four matches with defeats at Wolves and Tottenham proving particularly damaging.

Chris Hughton’s team have only lost one home match this season – against Tottenham in September – and have taken 10 points from their last four encounters at the Amex.

They brushed Crystal Palace aside 3-1 in their last home game, despite playing for over half the encounter with 10 men, and they have been impressive on home soil.

Chelsea could avoid a third away defeat in a row but they may have to settle for a point on Sunday, with a 1-1 draw available at 8.00, while Brighton’s ability from set-pieces means that Lewis Dunk is excellent value at 41.00 to score the first goal.

Shot-shy Saints to lose again

In Sunday’s other game, Arsenal should extend their unbeaten record in the Premier League to 15 games by beating Southampton at St Mary’s.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang already has 10 top-flight goals to his name in just 14 starts this term, while Alexandre Lacazette has chipped in with six of his own.

In contrast, Danny Ings is Saints’ top scorer with four while only Huddersfield Town have managed to score fewer goals than their 13 in the first 16 fixtures.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has a massive task on his hands as he attempts to lift his new side, who have only won one league match this season, away from trouble. However, a loss to fellow strugglers Cardiff City last weekend was hardly the ideal start to his tenure.

Southampton have failed to win at St Mary’s this season and only scored six goals in seven home games to date. Meanwhile, the free-scoring Gunners have managed 18 in seven away games.

Curiously Unai Emery’s team have not led at half-time yet this season but that anomaly will surely come to an end on Sunday, with Arsenal 2.75 to be ahead at the break and after 90 minutes, while they are 3.55 to beat Hasenhuttl’s side to nil.