Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for five of the biggest games this weekend …
Liverpool vs. Arsenal
The Premier League’s box office fixture this weekend sees Arsenal head to Anfield. Ever since the dramatic season-ending game that decided the title in 1989, matches between these two sides have tended to be pretty entertaining.
One thing is certainly clear: There will be goals. A total of 22 have been scored in their last five meetings, and there has been only one scoreless draw in this fixture in the past 20 years.
Arsenal are in good form, their new signings are clicking and Unai Emery’s attacking style can potentially provide a threat to Jurgen Klopp’s side, who haven’t quite looked at their brilliant best in this campaign. Liverpool will also have defensive issues, with goalkeeper Alisson still injured. His understudy Adrian has yet to inspire confidence.
The Reds are undefeated in their last 39 home games, they’ve scored 15 goals in their last five home league games. Most significantly, they have beaten Arsenal on their last three visits to Anfield.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
Best Bet: Roberto Firmino as first goalscorer (5/1 with bet365). The Brazilian has scored the opener in his last four matches against Arsenal at Anfield, and has scored a total of seven goals in those games. He is one away from his 50th Premier League goal.
Parma vs. Juventus
The 2019-20 Serie A season will grace us with its presence on Saturday and the opener sees reigning champions Juventus visit the Stadio Ennio Tardini to face Parma. In the early 1990s, this would have been a heavyweight clash, but Parma have had a rough time since their heyday; in 2015 they went bust and were forced to start again in Serie D. After three consecutive promotions, they arrived back in the top flight last season.
Juve, who are seeking their ninth consecutive title this season, are the strong favorites at as high as -350 in Vegas. However, Parma gave them plenty of trouble in their last meeting, a thrilling 3-3 draw in Turin, in which former Arsenal striker Gervinho earned a brace for the visitors.
Additionally, Parma took all three points in their home match against Juventus in 2014-15, despite being rock bottom of the league.
Juventus have won four of their last six meetings and manager Maurizio Sarri will be keen to get off to a positive start in his first game in charge. His new signings, including Aaron Ramsey and Matthijs de Ligt, make the task even more difficult for the home side.
But there is definitely potential for an upset here. The reigning champions of the other four major European league all failed to win last weekend, and Parma definitely represent something of a bogey team.
Best Bet: Gervinho anytime scorer (4/1 with Skybet). The Ivorian has scored in his last two meetings with Juve and was on firing form in preseason.
Barcelona vs. Real Betis
Barcelona play their first home game of the season this Sunday — but they may have hoped to do so under better circumstances. Last weekend, they were stunned at San Mames by a last-gasp Athletic Bilbao win, which put them below Real Madrid in the table for the first time in 27 months.
On top of that disappointing loss, the Blaugrana are facing something of an injury crisis in the final third. Luis Suarez hobbled off last week, Ousmane Dembele will be nursing his hamstring for another five weeks and Lionel Messi will likely be a game-time decision.
The Argentine talisman has returned to training following his calf injury and he may be impugned to play without full fitness. Currently, Antoine Griezmann is the only fit forward option the club have, which may force Ernesto Valverde to switch up his 4-3-3 formation.
The reigning champions should also be concerned by what happened the last time the Andalusian side came to the Camp Nou. Last November, Betis inflicted Barca’s first home loss in two years as they emerged 4-3 winners, while the hosts finished with 10 men.
Barcelona have won nine of their last 10 league meetings with Betis at home, and have put 12 goals past them in their last three meetings. But there will never be a better time to face Barcelona, and Betis may be confident of nicking a point.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-2 Real Betis
Best Bet: A draw is tremendous value at +500 in Vegas and 5/1 with bet365. And the second half to be the highest-scoring half is evens at Paddy Power. That’s proven true in four of their last five meetings.
Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders
One of the biggest highlights of MLS rivalry week will likely be the Friday night battle between Portland and Seattle. The victor in this one will also take the 2019 Cascadia Cup, plus a Portland win will see them leapfrog Seattle in the Western Conference.
For a regular season match, there could not be much more at stake in a rivalry that predates the league.
Neither side come into this one on a rich vein of form. The Timbers are still smarting from their loss to Atlanta in last week’s MLS Cup rematch, and they have lost three of their last five outings. Seattle, meanwhile, are winless in their last four, having sneaked a 2-2 draw at LA Galaxy last week.
But The Timbers have the edge in the head-to-head, having won four of their last six meetings. That includes a 2-1 victory at CenturyLink Field last month, and a win by the same scoreline in the U.S. Open Cup in June. Expect more of the same here.
Prediction: Portland 3-1 Seattle
Best Bet: Brian Fernandez first goalscorer (4/1 with bet365). The Argentine has scored all four of Portland’s goals against Seattle in 2019 so far.
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