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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Merry on the Mersey?

What a time this is for Merseyside.

Last Updated: 10/04/14 at 16:07 Post Comment

Man City have won just once on their last 20 visits to Merseyside

Man City have won just once on their last 20 visits to Merseyside

Liverpool are eyeing the Premier League title. Everton are closing in on Champions League football. For the second week running both teams won on Super Sunday - Everton and Liverpool have now won every game in March and April.

Everton were superb against Arsenal at Goodison Park. Roberto Martinez's team out-fought the Gunners, while the manager out-thought Arsene Wenger.

Anyone who watched Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher dissect Arsenal's performance on Monday Night Football, and saw just how easy they are to set up against, will think twice about backing Arsenal at 4/7 with Sky Bet to finish in the top four.

Everton have won six in a row, have the momentum, and are 11/8 to secure Champions League football.

I'm heading back to Anfield this weekend for the game of the season, and the match that will play a big part in deciding who wins the Premier League title: Liverpool (13/10 to win on Sunday with Sky Bet) against Manchester City (9/5).

Respect

You sense the eyes of the football world will be on Merseyside. Not only have we got a great football match but we also have a big occasion and an emotional one guaranteed as Anfield marks the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and remembers the 96 who died.

As a mark of respect and remembrance for those who lost their lives as a result of the disaster in April 1989, all Premier League, Football League, Football Conference and FA Cup matches taking place this weekend will kick off seven minutes later than originally scheduled.

The match at which the disaster took place, the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15th April 1989, was ended six minutes after kick-off, at 3.06pm.

On the field on Sunday is not a title decider but it will give the winners the belief and momentum to go on and win the League. The side that triumphs will be firm favourites to go on and lift the title. A draw plays in to Chelsea's hands.

Man City will be looking to repeat the 2-1 victory at the Etihad on Boxing Day after which Liverpool slipped to fourth in the table having started the day top. I remember thinking at the time how demoralising that could be for Liverpool and fully expected them to drop away. The opposite has happened.

It does mean Man City are looking to the League double over Liverpool for the first time in 77 years, since 5-1 and 5-0 wins in 1937. City won their first top division title that year, Liverpool finished 18th.

One problem City have is they have a poor recent record on Merseyside. They have won only one of their last 20 Premier League visits to Merseyside (D6, L13) and that was 2-1 at Goodison in April 2009. Manchester City haven't won at Liverpool since the 2-1 win under Kevin Keegan in May 2003. That remains their only Premier League win at Anfield.

As things stand, it's in both their hands.

Important

If Liverpool win their final five games they will be champions. They've won their last nine but no side has ever won 14 successive Premier League games within a season - Arsenal won 13 in 2001-02. Liverpool are bang in form having taken 38 points from the last 42 available and are the only unbeaten side in the Premier League in 2014.

Man City also know that if they win their final seven games they will win the League – even if they draw on Sunday it will still be in their hands.

There are key battles all over the field but most important is bound to be Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge against Vincent Kompany and his central defensive partner.

On MNF we looked at how James Tomkins and Winston Reid handled the Liverpool strikers so effectively on Sunday at Upton Park. Incredibly, it was the first time in 2014 that neither Suarez nor Sturridge had scored in a Premier League game for Liverpool (14th game this year).

The last game when neither scored was 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on December 29th. It was Liverpool’s first League win all season with neither Suarez nor Sturridge on the score sheet. Suarez is 5/1 to score the first goal on Sunday, Sturridge 11/2.

They have been sensational for Liverpool this season and it's the first time in 50 years that Liverpool have had two players scoring 20+ League goals in the same season, since Roger Hunt (31) and Ian St John (21) scored 52 goals in 1963-64 in the old Division 1. Bill Shankly’s Liverpool ended a 17-year title drought that season.

Now Liverpool are looking for their first League title in 24 years. They were joint fifth favourites with Tottenham at 33-1 to win the League at the start of the season. They are now 15/8 with Sky Bet. Manchester City remain odds on at 8/11.

Chelsea (13/2) will be watching on. They play Swansea after the game at Anfield, which we also have live on Super Sunday. What a day in prospect.

The top of the table has changed hands 22 times this season - more times than the previous two seasons put together. Will it make a decisive change this weekend? Super Sunday. 12.30pm. Sky Sports 1. See you then!

Lottery

Last week Merseyside also hosted another hugely successful Grand National meeting. It was a magnificent spectacle but once again I have come away from it saying the big race is a lottery and a waste of time betting on.

I know full well I will get lured in again in 12 months’ time. Mind you, fair play to Sky Bet's Racing PR Manager for tipping Pineau de Re at 25/1 on the Sky Sports/Sporting Life podcast.

Another highlight of the sporting year starts today on Sky with The Masters at Augusta.

It's incredibly exciting and satisfactory to have the player you've backed in contention on the back nine on Sunday. This year I've gone for Rory McIlroy at 11/1 and Charl Schwartzel at 35/1 with Sky Bet and will be monitoring all their in-running markets with interest.

On Sunday you'll be able to see how myself, G Neville and J Carragher fared as we took each other on over four holes in Sky Sports' Masters Shot Centre. Keep an eye out for my tee shot on the infamous 12th and Jamie's second shot into 15…

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