You won’t often see a team in any sport thrive after losing its marquee player. If the Cleveland Cavaliers lost LeBron James, they would go crashing down the standings. If Sidney Crosby was unable to suit up for the Pittsburgh Penguins, they would not be a Stanley Cup threat in the least.
Most believed that Liverpool would suffer a similar fate once they sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January. The team had hoped that Coutinho would stick it through for the remainder of the season, but the player continued to push for the move. LFC ultimately relented and wound up selling the Brazilian to Barcelona for well over £100 million.
Most betting sites would have told you that the Reds would struggle to stay afloat in the race for the top-4 with Coutinho in Spain. Liverpool’s odds dwindled even more once January ended without Jurgen Klopp splurging the money to bring in a suitable replacement.
Oddsmakers typically know what they’re doing, but they couldn’t have been more wrong about how Liverpool would fare in the post-Coutinho era. A sharp bettor would have seen the value in wagering on Klopp’s men to stay relevant in the league even without their best player still in the squad.
Finding an edge is the name of the game when it comes to sports betting. Obviously, Manchester City have been a lock to win the Premier League for months now. You don’t need to be a mathematician to see that the odds reflect that. That said, the most successful bettors conduct thorough research before putting money down on anything. The Internet makes research easier than it’s ever been. A site like TheSportsGeek.com is a great resource if you’re in the market for sports betting analysis.
Liverpool are too far back to make a serious run at City this season, but the Reds are very much in the thick of the race for second place. Entering matchweek 29, Liverpool are in third on 57 points, just two points adrift of Manchester United for second. The two teams will do battle at Old Trafford in two weeks in a match that could well dictate who finishes first behind City.
Some believed Klopp erred by deciding against bringing in a Coutinho replacement in January. How are you going to replace the production of one of Europe’s most dynamic midfield influences without even trying?
Well, it’s safe to say the results tell us that Klopp knew what he was doing. The Reds became the first team in the league to defeat City in Premier League play in just their second game without Coutinho in January, and they’ve gone on to pick up a series of dominant victories.
Liverpool has victory margins of 3-0, 2-0 and 4-1 in the league recently. They also went into Portugal in Champions League play and absolutely blew Porto out of the water with a stirring 5-0 triumph. The Reds also earned a controversial 2-2 draw against Spurs in a game the referees essentially decided. LFC should’ve taken all three points that afternoon.
The lesson? Don’t bet against Klopp. Manchester United may have more on-paper talent, but there’s something missing. Jose Mourinho’s squad has all sorts of expensive talent, but he coaches them in a way that fails to get the most out of it. Klopp is the exact opposite. Liverpool have plenty of world-class talent of their own, but Klopp has also gotten the most out of little-known players like Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Arsenal have essentially played their way out of the running for a Champions League position, which means one of United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham will be alongside the Gunners on the outside looking in at the top-4. Antonio Conte’s struggling Chelsea side are currently in that 5th spot, but they’re just two back of Spurs for fourth.
Liverpool have a four-point edge on the Blues, but things can change in an instant in this league. Klopp’s teams have had a history of dropping points against lesser competition in recent years, but they can’t afford to let that happen this season with a Champions League place very much in play.
If forced to choose which three teams will join City in the top-four at season’s end, I would predict the current set of teams will hold firm. Chelsea have endured a poor run of form of late, and they’re generally trending in the wrong direction. Finishing outside the top-four will almost surely cost Conte his job at season’s end.
Betting against Klopp’s Liverpool at this stage of the season doesn’t look like a sound strategy. We saw during the demolition of Porto what their attack is capable of, even with Coutinho no longer in the fold. Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane form as potent a front-three as any team in Europe. With the Coutinho transfer money still in hand, we could see an even more dangerous product coming out of Anfield once the 2018-19 campaign gets underway later this year.