This season could be one that goes down in Liverpool FC history. The current European champions sit atop the Premier League, with a chance to win their first domestic title since 1990 – and just ask any child of the 80s if they ever thought the club would go more than a season without winning it, let alone thirty. Additionally, they are very much in the mix for the Champions League itself, with the promise of retaining a trophy they won in some style last season after finishing as runners-up in 2018.
As things stand, the Reds are not yet assured of their place in the knockout stages, but they can secure this and win the group with a win over Serie A side Napoli this evening. A draw would be enough to get through to the next stage, but could be seen as somewhat of a disappointment given the form Jurgen Klopp’s side have shown this season. Also, a win for Liverpool would create the realistic possibility of RB Salzburg levering Napoli out of second spot, which would be good fun. Let’s look at what the bookmakers are saying about this evening’s match.
Salah to take up where he left off?
At the weekend, Liverpool once again picked up three points thanks to a late goal, Roberto Firmino finishing in the 85th minute to see off Crystal Palace’s doughty challenge. This was a win that the side managed to achieve without Mo Salah, who stayed on the bench from start to finish. Logically, we can conclude that Salah will be fine to start this evening and, having netted against Manchester City before being substituted, will be keen to deliver a scoring return in front of the adoring Liverpool fans.
Salah is 19/5 with 888 to score first, which is not that great a price considering how often his teammate Sadio Mane gets among the goals. However, the Evens tag on him to score at any time is worth getting in on. Salah has an unerring record of grabbing goals when it matters, and a European night at Anfield is exactly that kind of occasion. You can also back him to score more than once at 6/1 – but that might be less well-advised thanks to the way Liverpool often spread the goals around.
Napoli struggling for form
After winning the previous meeting between these sides, there has been the sense that Napoli are treading water somewhat, at least domestically. They presently find themselves seventh in Serie A, already 15 points behind leaders Juventus. Draws at home to Salzburg and away to Genk – who are bottom of Group E with only that point to their name – have meant that they come to Anfield having already undone all of the good work achieved when Liverpool came to the Amalfi coast.
Napoli are a very fine team or, at least, a more-than-fine collection of individuals, but the feeling is that although they were close to catching Juventus when Mauricio Sarri was in charge, present boss Carlo Ancelotti has not quite taken to the club in the same way. Rather than being demonstrably Italy’s second best club, they’re now just part of the pack. It’s entirely reasonable to back Liverpool here to win both halves, and William Hill have enhanced their odds on that to a generous 11/4. Considering how easily the hosts disposed of Manchester City recently, it’s a decent bet.
Goals likely if Napoli need to chase
Coming into this game, Napoli may well feel that their best hope lies in trying to keep Liverpool contained and emerging with a draw, which would all but secure both sides’ spot in the last 16. However, that is prone to change if the Italian side fall behind; given that Salzburg have been free-scoring in Europe, they’ll be fancied to defeat Genk this evening. A defeat for Napoli could be very costly. So if Liverpool can get on the scoresheet early, the visitors will be forced to chase the game. There’s every chance, given the hosts’ commitment to pressing, that that could end badly for Napoli.
Liverpool have proven supremely adept at shutting down their opponents and triggering swift counter-attacks. They’re sure to bring that energy to this game and it makes it all the more likely there will be a high-scoring match tonight. If you’re in agreement, then backing the match to have more than 3.5 goals at Paddy Power, where the odds are 5/4, may well be a very smart move.
Bets of the Day
Liverpool win both halves (William Hill, 11/4); More than 3.5 goals (Paddy Power, 5/4); Mo Salah to score anytime (888, Evens)