Week in Sport Betting Preview: : Rashford to hurt Gunners and England to shine in Cape Town
- 1-7 January
- Live on BT Sport and Sky Sports
2020 begins with more Premier League action as Arsenal look to kick-start life under Mikel Arteta and Liverpool continue their quest to go a full season undefeated.
There is also more Test cricket action from South Africa as England look to bounce back from a disappointing defeat in the series opener.
Arsenal vs Man Utd – Wednesday 1 January 8pm
Things have not started well for Mikel Arteta as the new Arsenal manager, picking up just one point from his first two games in charge. A draw away to Bournemouth and a home defeat to Chelsea is not what the Spaniard had in mind when he took over at the Emirates and if he didn’t realise quite how big the job on his hands is, he does now.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a similarly mammoth task to do with Manchester United, but they look to be in a better place than the Gunners right now after a run of decent results. A win at Burnley in their last outing made it just one defeat in nine games for the Red Devils and took them to fifth in the table.
While there is clearly still vast room for improvement, they are scoring more goals and conceding fewer and Solskjaer looks to be knitting together a much more consistent side.
Arteta’s problems are clearly in defence, but he also has issues up top, with Arsenal only scoring 26 goals in 20 league games this season. Other than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they just do not look like scoring goals, and with their woeful back four, it is a dangerous combination.
Manchester United are favourites to win this match but they are not quite reliable enough, yet, to back them for the away victory. A draw is a possibility, but the most likely outcome at the moment appears to be Marcus Rashford getting on the score sheet.
Much was made at the start of the season over Rashford’s suitability to be the main striker at a club the size of United. He appears to be sharing that role with Anthony Martial, and between them they are doing a pretty good job at the moment.
The England international has 12 Premier League goals this season and six in his last eight league matches. His pace will terrify the Arsenal defence on the counter-attack and with his confidence brimming, he looks great value to keep up his excellent form and find the back of the net at the Emirates.
Liverpool vs Sheffield Utd – Thursday 2 January – 8pm
Liverpool’s relentless march towards the Premier League title has not slowed down over the festive period, when many expected them to stumble over the ridiculous amount of fixtures in their path. Quite the opposite, they have looked as strong as ever and while their nearest rivals have faltered, they have pushed on towards glory.
Heading into 2020 Jurgen Klopp’s side hold a 13-point lead with a game in hand at the top of the table and no sane person would bet against them lifting the title in May.
They have even begun to iron out some issues from earlier in the campaign and have kept clean sheets in their last four Premier League fixtures, scoring 10 goals in the process.
The Reds take on Sheffield United on Thursday, a team that has won many plaudits since their arrival in the Premier League from the Championship. Despite just one point from their last two games, the Blades are eighth in the table and only Liverpool have conceded fewer goals in the division.
They gave the Reds a scare in the reverse fixture, with only a late goalkeeping error handing Liverpool a 1-0 win in South Yorkshire and Klopp will be well aware of the threat they pose.
The league leaders will have too much for them again, though, with Klopp’s rotation in recent weeks not slowing his team down at all, while the thinner squad of Sheffield United will struggle to keep pace with the fixture pile-up.
Liverpool have stopped conceding goals and they will win this one with another clean sheet to enjoy.
South Africa vs England second Test – Friday 3 January 8.30am
England slumped to defeat by 107 runs in the first Test against South Africa and will be looking to bounce back at Newlands, Cape Town in the second.
There were some encouraging signs for England, with Sam Curran and Jofra Archer showing they are the future of the team’s pace attack, but the batting was again well below par.
Just Joe Denly and Rory Burns made half-centuries while everyone else fluffed their lines and left England’s two totals woefully short of where they needed to be.
This is often the case in England’s first match of a Test series abroad, though, and they should improve in Cape Town, where they will hopefully be feeling a bit better. Illness had run through the squad in the build up to and during the first Test and with that hopefully out of the way, they will be more like themselves.
Dom Sibley showed promise and Joe Root looked not far away from some form, and if just a couple of the top order can find some runs, then the dangerous bowling attack will give England a great chance.
Outside of Quinton de Kock, the Proteas’ batting line-up is not that threatening, and if England can just play themselves into a bit of form with the willow, they should bounce back with a win in Cape Town.
- Marcus Rashford has already scored more goals than in any other Premier League season
- Man Utd have lost just one of their last nine league games.
- Arsenal have kept just three Premier League clean sheets this season
- The Gunners have won five of their 20 league games this campaign
- Liverpool have kept clean sheets in their last four Premier League games
- The Reds now have the best defence in the division
- Thursday 3 January will be the one year anniversary of Liverpool’s last Premier League defeat
- Sheffield United have only scored 23 goals in 20 league games this season
- England have not lost a Test series to South Africa since 2012
- England have not lost a Test series in South Africa since 2000