Adrian Clarke: Classy Reds And Keeping The Faith With On-Song Villa

8 min

With a split weekend (1-1) last time, Adrian Clarke is looking to go one better with two Premier League selections…


It’s too early to say that Jurgen Klopp has rediscovered that lost mojo but whisper it quietly…Liverpool have been much more like their old selves across the last one and half matches of Premier League football.

They were magnificent in the second half of that 2-2 draw with leaders Arsenal, fashioning eight big chances, a joint record for the Gunners to face in one match since records began.

And boy did they carry that momentum over when dispatching Leeds United 6-1 ruthlessly at Elland Road.

Everywhere you looked you saw confidence flooding back into the players. Mo Salah, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (in a new roaming central midfield role) all hit top form in a blistering second half.

This weekend Liverpool have the easiest home fixture in the calendar this season; Nottingham Forest at home.

There’s a lot to like about manager Steve Cooper, and on their day (usually at the City Ground) they can be a match for anyone. However, their road trips have largely been an unmitigated disaster.

Forest have collected just one win and only six points from 15 away games this term. Eleven of those fixtures have seen them beaten.

Their goal difference is 5-36 (-31) and away to sides in the current Top 9 they have scored once in nine matches. That’s an 88.88% blank rate.

So for me it has to be Liverpool and BTTS NO on Saturday afternoon. The hosts are unbackable at 1.2 for the win but that price leaps to 1.92 if you think they’ll do so with a clean sheet.

We all know they’ve not been at their best defensively this term, with Virgil van Dijk especially poor, but Cooper’s boys shouldn’t frighten anyone on their travels.

In a rotten campaign Liverpool have still kept seven clean sheets from 14 games at Anfield, winning nine matches too.

They are usually on it in front of their own supporters.

I did look at Liverpool -2 (1.88) at a similar price, which is a handicap that can definitely be overcome, but Forest’s lack of punch has swung it towards BTTS NO.

If Liverpool don’t win it will be a seismic shock. If they don’t win with a clean sheet, it will still be a big surprise.

That’s my pick.


Across the last eight matches Manchester City’s incredible form has been matched by only one other side in the country.

Aston Villa.

Yes, scoring 16 times and conceding just twice, Unai Emery’s on-fire outfit have won seven of their last eight contests, with that solitary defeat coming at the hands of a rampant City.

I’ve been rewarded for my faith in Villa in recent weeks, tipping them up a few times.

Away from home they are always a good shout. Under the former Arsenal gaffer they have won six, drawn one and lost one, away from home. A phenomenal return.

This weekend they travel to Brentford, a side they smashed 4-0 when caretaker manager Aaron Danks was briefly in charge post Steven Gerrard.

The Bees are a good side as we know, losing just twice at home, but their form has tailed off in recent weeks. They approach this encounter having lost three on the spin.

Brentford have caught a touch of mid-table-itus which makes them less of a fearsome opponent right now – and a highly-motivated Villa could prey on that weakness.

The Villains are chasing an unexpected European place, they’ve scored in 18 successive matches, and they face a side that’s only taken eight points from their last eight Premier League fixtures too.

For these reasons I like Villa +0.0/0.5 at Brentford. It has been nibbled in to 1.78 but they are still backable in my opinion, at that price.

If the visitors avoid defeat we make money on this gamble, and given the formbook and data I’ve just run through, that seems more likely than not.

Emery’s men are more than capable of going to west London and winning, and in many respects, I’d expect a draw at worst from them.

Those of you who watched Aston Villa destroy Newcastle United 3-0 last weekend, when it could have been six or seven, will understand why I have so much confidence in them.


  • LIVERPOOL & BTTS NO v Nottingham Forest (1.92)
  • Brentford v ASTON VILLA +0.0/0.5 (1.78)

Watch Our Weekend Football Preview:

Subscribe to the Matchbook Betting Podcast here

Subscribe to the Matchbook YouTube channel here