Sergio Agüero is back from suspension – but Liverpool are still favourites in the cracker we’ve all been waiting for at Anfield tomorrow.
A draw is no use to either City or Jurgen Klopp’s vastly improved Reds as the pair of them desperately try to chase down Premier League leaders Chelsea, who could easily be NINE clear at the top before kick-off.
Chelsea face Stoke at home – before what is sure to be a fitting football finale to see out 2016 gets underway.
Agüero – the player I love to hate as he’s always costing me a fortune by scoring first and often going on to hit a double or even hat-trick – is 3/1 at Betfred to mark his return with the opener while Daniel Sturridge is 9/2 to score first against the club where he learned his trade in the acclaimed academy.
Reflecting on the year there have been some incredible surprises in politics – and in football complete outsiders Leicester winning the Premier League was simply sensational and has certainly acted as a wake-up call to the so-called big boys, who to be fair have upped their ante in the first half of this season.
There is now a familiar look about life at the top with Chelsea 4/6 at Betfred to be champions with Liverpool 5/1, City 11/2, Arsenal 11/1 and fifth-place Spurs 25/1. The top five keep on winning and had me choking on my left-over turkey with the favourites always seemingly on top, costing me close to £4m in a disastrous December.
Liverpool are 11/8 to beat City with the Blues 2/1 to triumph in what should be a fascinating clash of styles. Meanwhile Jose Mourinho has at last got United on the up after the miserable, success-starved post-Fergie transitional period. Zlatan Ibrahimović was an inspired signing – possibly the best of 2016 anywhere – and it is only a matter of time now before record buy Paul Pogba starts to turn solid performances into show-stoppers.
United host Middlesbrough tomorrow with the superstar Swede 5/2 to score first – and notice how the Reds’ impressive unbeaten run has seen their odds for the title in Mourinho’s debut season tumbling to 22/1.
Finally if there is one thing I’m hoping for in 2017 it is that referees stop making headlines. They are never going to stop making mistakes for they are humans trying to cope with the increased pace of the game – and even afterwards the TV wise-after-the-event pundits cannot always agree over contentious decisions having watched a ridiculous number of slow motion replays.
Players need to stop diving to con refs and accept a decision without question rather than constantly argue and inevitably finding themselves out of position. For managers, they should engage brain before mouth and ponder whether it was a missed goal, badly thought out tactics or poor team selection before they target the easy targets, i.e. the ref or his assistants for their team’s defeat.