• Dortmund have begun 2021 in style, winning both games faced and scoring exactly twice beyond the hour mark each time.
• The ‘Partenopei’ may have registered seven more points at this stage than last season, but Napoli last lost more Serie ‘A’ matches in their opening 16 games during the 2007/08 campaign on their return from Serie ‘B’.
Liverpool vs Manchester United Sunday 7:30 pm
Nothing has been going right for defending champions Liverpool recently, with just one goal scored and an awful shot conversion rate across their three Premier League games following Christmas.
It’s not a great time to welcome fierce-rivals Manchester United then, a side that sits top of the table at this stage of a campaign for the first time since the Sir Alex Ferguson era, for a North-West derby that’s only ever produced one goalless game when held in January.
It took Liverpool until 75 minutes to have a shot on target in their last PL match — their latest such time in the PL for over five years — but the division’s best home side can take heart from scoring a league-high 2.63 goals on average here, and securing a clean sheet against United in four of the last five competitive head-to-heads at Anfield.
However injuries continue to plague the ‘Reds’, particularly in defence, and that’ll be something the league’s best away side and top away scorers, United, will look to exploit.
Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will be aware that no team has taken all three points in a PL game at Anfield in 67 fixtures, they’ll have little to fear considering they’ve won despite conceding the opener in an astounding 75 per cent of their 2020/21 top-flight road trips. That’s contributed to the Red Devils’ current 11-game unbeaten PL run in which they hit the scoresheet at least twice on seven occasions.
19/01/20 PL Liverpool Manchester Utd 2 : 0
20/10/19 PL Manchester Utd Liverpool 1: 1
24/02/19 PL Manchester Utd Liverpool 0 : 0
16/12/18 PL Liverpool Manchester Utd 3: 1
29/07/18 ICC Manchester Utd Liverpool 1: 4
Dortmund vs Mainz Saturday 5:30 pm
Dortmund have begun 2021 in style, winning both games faced and scoring exactly twice beyond the hour mark each time. Yet, with both games producing a goalless first half, Dortmund cannot necessarily bank on the same strong start that has seen them lead at HT in their last two wins against Mainz.
The same theme carries into home form, with Dortmund’s four home league victories this term consistently seeing a majority — or all — of their match goals coming beyond half time. Their average second-half winning margin over those home wins is 2.5 goals - identical to the average whole-game margin across their last two head-to-head victories.
It’s a case of ‘new year, same problems’ for Mainz, with two straight defeats this calendar year which have seen them average a second-half losing margin of 3.00 unanswered goals. Both games also saw their last two ‘goals against’ of the match scored by the same opposing player. This will be Mainz’ third Bundesliga road trip to a top-four finisher from last season.
Both of the previous such games saw them concede the -1 handicap, but curiously never lose both halves. That said, they have not recovered points from any of the last five Bundesliga away games to see them trail at half time, last winning a top-flight awayday after trailing at half time back in September 2016.
17/06/20 BUN Dortmund Mainz 0 : 2
11/01/20 CF Dortmund Mainz 0 : 2
14/12/19 BUN Mainz Dortmund 0 : 4
13/04/19 BUN Dortmund Mainz 2 : 1
24/11/18 BUN Mainz Dortmund 1 : 2
Napoli vs Fioretina Sunday 2:30 pm
A last-minute winner against Udinese saw an inconsistent Napoli move into the top six. The ‘Partenopei’ may have registered seven more points at this stage than last season, but Napoli last lost more Serie ‘A’ matches in their opening 16 games during the 2007/08 campaign on their return from Serie ‘B’.
Despite their last four games seeing both sides score, Napoli can boast the joint-best defence in Serie ‘A’ with just 16 goals conceded, although ten of those ‘goals against’ came at home where they’re winless in two games.
Subsequently, and despite being favourite for each home game, just 13 of their 31-point haul has come at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, where the first halves have averaged just one goal, as opposed to the 2.63 seen after the break. Visiting Fiorentina have lost only once across the last six Serie ‘A’ matches, registering 50 per cent of their seasonal points haul during the run.
In sharp contrast to their hosts, Fiorentina have kept a clean sheet in three of the previous four Serie ‘A’ outings and only one of their last seven league matches won/lost has seen both teams hit the net. The visitors are the joint-second worst team on the road this SA term after winning just once, with four of their five away losses seeing Fiorentina trail ’to-nil’ at half time. However, their last three away outings have featured exactly three goals.
18/01/20 SA Napoli Fiorentina 0 : 2
24/08/19 SA Fiorentina Napoli 3 : 4
09/02/19 SA Fiorentina Napoli 0 : 0
15/09/18 SA Napoli Fiorentina 1 : 0
29/04/18 SA Fiorentina Napoli 3 : 0