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Reds to claim derby spoils

Chris Hammer previews Sunday's action in the Premier League and fancies Liverpool to win the Merseyside derby.

Last Updated: 05/05/13 at 14:01 Post Comment

Liverpool can continue to shine without Luis Suarez

Liverpool can continue to shine without Luis Suarez

The 220th Merseyside derby kicks-off Sunday's Premier League action as Liverpool host rivals Everton at Anfield hoping to close the gap on the sixth-placed Toffees.

And later in the day, Chelsea will look to boost their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League as they visit Premier League champions Manchester United.

Liverpool v Everton (1330 BST)

Liverpool began the immediate life without the suspended Luis Suarez with a thumping 6-0 victory at struggling Newcastle last weekend and will now head into Sunday's Merseyside derby with renewed confidence of catching their fierce rivals. The Reds trail Everton by five points with three games remaining so realistically nothing short of a victory will do at Anfield if they're to prevent the Toffees finishing above them for a second successive season. As shambolic as Newcastle were at St James' Park, Liverpool's impressive performance demonstrated they are far from a one-man team and Brendan Rodgers quite rightly praised the collective effort of his players. Many expected the 10-match suspension of Suarez, who has netted 23 of their 67 league goals this season, to have an adverse effect on the club during the run-in but perhaps the influential Uruguayan's absence will instead force his Reds team-mates to step up to the plate and realise their potential. Suarez's replacement, Daniel Sturridge, bagged a ruthless brace and with Sunday being another perfect opportunity for him to enhance his reputation at Anfield, I'm sure many punters will be tempted to back him in the first goalscorer market at around 5/1. While Liverpool have never been in the running for a top-four spot this season, Everton made a good fight of it before falling away in recent weeks and head into this clash three points behind fifth-placed Spurs, who have a game in hand. David Moyes' men have been struggling for goals having managed just three in the last four - two of those coming against QPR - while their Anfield record obviously doesn't make pretty reading for Toffees fans, who have not celebrated victory on enemy territory since September 1999. Liverpool also have the added incentive of ensure Jamie Carragher's final derby before his summer retirement ends on a high, with captain Steven Gerrard saying: "I think being a local lad we feel the passion in the city. We're hoping to get a nice derby victory for Carra to remember because you will always remember your last derby." And team-mate Stewart Downing told the Liverpool Echo: "Carra has been on at everyone making sure they are ready for Sunday. With this being his last derby, Sunday will be extra special. He's desperate to win it - as we all are. We don't need reminding how big this game is." The hosts are odds-on with most bookies but are certainly worth a bet at a best of even-money with Stan James to come out on top.

Verdict: Liverpool 2 Everton 0


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Manchester United v Chelsea (1600 BST)

Manchester United at odds-against to win at home sticks out like a sore thumb considering the champions have won 15 out of their previous 17 Premier League games at Old Trafford and are also a whopping 20 points clear of third-placed Chelsea heading into Sunday's clash. The best price of 5/4 with a number of bookies will no doubt tempt many punters while the 5/2 about Chelsea doesn't initially look very appealing on face value. However, there's only one side truly eager to pick up all three points and that's the visitors. Rafael Benitez's third-placed side head into the weekend holding slender one-point lead over Arsenal, with Tottenham two further back, as the race for a top four spot hots up. Chelsea are of course in the box seat but if results go against them this weekend then they could well be hosting Spurs on Wednesday night level on points with their London rivals and that would certainly make for a nervy night at Stamford Bridge. The Blues head into the clash on the back of booking their place in the Europa League final but it's perfectly fair to say the prize of earning Champions League football next season is far greater. They've won three of their last four Premier League games with the only dropped points in that run coming at Anfield when Luis Suarez, who shouldn't have been on the pitch after 'that' bite, struck an equaliser deep into stoppage time so they are a team with momentum on their side. United struggled to find top gear at Arsenal last week in what was their first game since regaining the title and the result ended their chances of eclipsing Chelsea's points record of 95. That wasn't really much of a motivation anyway but now that objective has gone it's going to be difficult for them to give everything in their remaining games. Sir Alex Ferguson has assured fans of Spurs and Arsenal that they will field a strong side on Sunday but this doesn't mean the performance will be as sharp as earlier in the season. As Chelsea would probably take a point - although that may depend on Saturday's results - it's perhaps safer to back the Blues in the draw no bet market at 6/4 with Coral and bet365 rather than just to win.

Verdict: Manchester United 1 Chelsea 2


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