Week in Sport Betting Preview : Chelsea and Liverpool must perform and Van Gerwen returns
- 9-15 December
- Live on BT Sport and Sky Sports
The final Champions League group matches of the season are played this week, while the PDC World Darts Championship gets underway and UFC 245 serves up a plethora of superb fights.
Salzburg vs Liverpool – Tuesday 10 December
Liverpool go to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday night needing a point to guarantee progression to the last 16 and a win to confirm top spot in Group E. The Reds’ battles with Napoli, which have ended in a draw and a defeat have left them needing a result in Austria in the final game of the group, but they should be more than capable of getting it.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have not necessarily been that convincing in the Champions League this season, but they have been dominant in the Premier League, and the last week will have filled them with confidence. Klopp began rotating his squad for the first time this campaign and they still came away with a 5-2 win over Everton and a 3-0 thrashing of Bournemouth. Top players should be relatively fresh for the all-important Champions League clash mid-week.
Salzburg are a dangers side that scores a lot of goals and needing a win they will be going at Liverpool. Erling Haaland is the man of the moment but they also have 21-year-old Patson Daka who has scored 13 league goals this season. Liverpool’s defence has not been rock solid so far this season and can be breached, but with their own goal-scoring powers in full effect, they will have enough to see off the Austrians. The first meeting of these sides ended 4-3 to Liverpool, and we could expect something similar.
Chelsea vs Lille – Tuesday 10 December
Chelsea must beat Lille at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday to secure a spot in the Champions League knockout stages. A draw could be enough but only if Ajax beat Valencia in Amsterdam and Frank Lampard will certainly not be relying on that.
The Blues have hit something of a stumbling block in recent weeks, losing to West Ham and Everton in the Premier League and draws in their last two Champions League outings have left them in this slightly precarious situation.
However, their fate is in their own hands and they are at home against the poorest side in their group, with Lille picking up just one point so far, a 1-1 home draw with Valencia. The home clash with Chelsea resulted in a 1-0 loss for the Ligue 1 side.
They are actually in half decent form, winning their last three games, all 1-0, but they really do struggle for goals, scoring just three in their five Champions League games so far. With home advantage, little threat coming back at them and a range of attacking options at Frank Lampard’s disposal, the Blues should have little trouble with getting the three points they need.
PDC Darts World Championship 13 December – 1 January
The biggest tournament in darts gets underway on Friday and there is one man who should be attracting the attention of the punters. He is the world number one, the defending champion and the best player on the planet, Michael van Gerwen.
The Dutchman has won this tournament three times, including last year when he cantered to the title largely unchallenged. In MVG’s six matches he dropped just eight sets, with a tournament aggregate score of 29-8. It was no easy run for Mighty Mike who saw off the likes of Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and Michael Smith en route to a third world crown.
He has not been entirely dominant this year, but has still picked up the Premier League, Masters, Grand Prix, Champions League and Players Championship Finals this year, so not too shabby.
Van Gerwen’s main challenger appears to be Gerwyn Price who is the other form horse heading into Alexandra Palace. The Iceman beat Van Gerwen en route to winning the Grand Slam of Darts in November and almost pipped him in the Players Championship Finals, so they are enjoying a good tussle at the moment. However, MVG still holds a 19-1-1 record against Price, so let’s not get too carried away with how competitive this rivalry.
The actual world number two is Rob Cross, who has won the Matchplay and European Championship this year, and lifted this trophy in 2018. He will be a threat, but outside of him and Price it is hard to see anyone really challenging Mighty Mike. Gary Anderson has been in dreadful form this year, mainly due to injury, Michael Smith is not entirely reliable yet, Peter Wright struggles to get over the line in majors, James Wade and Daryl Gurney don’t perform at the Worlds.
There has been a lot of money on Price, but that just gives us a better price on MVG and we should snap it up before he goes odds-on to win this tournament.
UFC 245 – Saturday 14 December
The UFC are providing a festive treat this weekend with a sensational card in Las Vegas featuring three world title fights, plus the likes of Jose Aldo vs Marlon Moraes and Urijah Faber vs Petr Yan. Max Holloway defends his featherweight belt against Alexander Volkanovski and Amanda Nunes puts her bantamweight strap on the line against Germaine de Randamie.
However, the main event sees Colby Covington challenge Kamaru Usman for the Nigerian Nightmare’s welterweight title in a serious grudge match.
These two have been jaw-jacking for months and they will finally compete on Saturday night, with Usman going in as the favourite but with Covington having every chance of causing the upset. The man known as Chaos has been supremely impressive in recent fights, overwhelming opponents with volume, pace and a relentless barrage of striking, takedowns and ground and pound. These two have similar skill-sets, but Covington seems to do it on fast-forward.
Usman dominated Tyron Woodley to win the belt, out-wrestling the Chosen One, but he is not necessarily a better wrestler than Covington, nor is he necessarily a better striker. Usman will try and hold Covington against the cage and work on the inside, but this will be far from easy with Chaos marching forward from the first bell to the last, throwing countless strikes and looking to grapple away from the fence.
Covington is a divisive figure, but what he did to Robbie Lawler in his last fight was one of the most impressive performances in recent memory. If he produces that again, Usman will not be able to live with him.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 33 Premier League matches
- Liverpool have only kept one clean sheet in the last 14 games
- Salzburg have scored 64 goals in 17 league games this season
- Lille have scored just three Champions League goals this season
- Chelsea won the reverse fixture in Lille 1-0
- Van Gerwen has won six of the 10 PDC major tournaments this year
- Gerwyn Price has never been to the quarter-finals of the World Championship
- MVG has never manager to retain the World Championship
- Colby Covington is 15-1 as a pro and 10-1 in the UFC
- Usman is 15-1 as a pro and 10-0 in the UFC