Something for Midweek: Liverpool defence back to its best

The weekend's penalty villains are named and shamed, while Jamie Pacheco also sings the praises of an Everton striker and Liverpool's back five.

How hard is it to score a penalty?

Two big penalty misses at the weekend became the ninth and 10th spot-kicks to be missed this season in the Premier League. Both were crucial. Troy Deeney's tame shot was well saved by Paulo Gazzaniga at Vicarage Road and Jamie Vardy's effort wasn't as well placed as it could have been either, Nick Pope doing well to guess right and then deny the league's top scorer from adding another to his tally.
The former game denied Watford from going on to win the game. In the latter match, it meant that not only did Leicester not go ahead, they also ended up actually losing the game, with the missed penalty coming when it was all-square at 1-1.
Kings of the penalty miss are Manchester United though.
They've missed four out of ten with Marcus Rashford guilty on two occasions and Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial both missing one, as well. Rashford may be out of action at the moment with injury but what odds a fifth penalty miss for United this term? It's 9/1 when they host Burnley that they're wasteful from the spot once again, remembering that that man Pope will be between the posts.

Turkish delight at Selhurst Park

For every inexplicable move where the player has been grossly over-valued or is a decent player who is clearly just going to sit on the bench for the next two years, there are some moves that make plenty of sense. One such one was Cenk Tosun's loan deal to Crystal Palace from Everton.
Clearly third-choice behind Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean at Goodison Park, Tosun was allowed to leave on loan and get some game time at a side that's been lacking a reliable centre forward all season. He got a well-taken goal away at Manchester City, no less, and looks set for an extended run in the side.
Palace look good value for a home win at 15/8 against Southampton, while the Turkish international rates a 21/10 shot to make it two from two.

Calvert-Lewin for England?

Talking about Everton strikers, how about Calvert-Lewin for England? Harry Kane should be fit for Euro 2020 but there are a few England games before then that the Spurs man won't be available for.
It seems Gareth Southgate likes to play an old-fashioned number nine flanked by two quick, tricky wide men and if he intends to keep the same system between now and Kane's return, he can do worse than give the Everton hitman a couple of games. Calvert-Lewin is probably in direct competition for that role with Tammy Abraham at present, with Danny Ings probably feeling like he deserves a chance as well.
Jamie Vardy? Who knows? The Leicester man is yet to decide on a possible international return, so we have to assume he's not a contender at present. Everton's number nine appropriately, has nine for the season, the last of which was a well-taken header away at West Ham at the weekend.
If he carries on like that, his physical presence, aerial ability and neat finishing can't go ignored for much longer. It's 11/4 he opens the scoring at home to Newcastle, something that would do his international chances no harm at all.

Liverpool defence holding strong

Having bizarrely struggled to keep clean sheets for so much of the early season, they're now almost a formality for Liverpool. In their first 16 matches, Liverpool kept two clean sheets. In their last six games, they've kept six.
The return of Alisson from injury helped matters and Joe Gomez looks a more solid presence than either Joel Matip or Dejan Lovren, alongside Virgil van Dijk. But it's probably more just a case that Liverpool are peaking right now, to the extent that the opposition just doesn't have enough of the ball to score goals and when they do, there's always someone saving the day at the last minute, anyway.
What price seven clean sheets in a row? Wolves will be tough to keep out but Liverpool not conceding once again, pays out at 6/5.

Foxes not enjoying 2020

Leicester have been having a poor time of it. Having played so brilliantly to the extent that they were being touted as possible contenders for a runners-up spot, they've now failed to win seven of their last 10. Ok, two were in the respective cups so to an extent they don't count but it does show how tough it is to just carry on winning in this country.
Defeats to Liverpool and Man City in the league were understandable, but losses to Burnley and Southampton, far less so. It was 1.23 they finished in the Top 3 a few weeks ago but right now, you could be tempted to be a layer at 1.50 for that Top 3 finish. Having said that, with Liverpool and Man City obvious teams to finish above them, it's not entirely obvious as to who can be consistent enough to be the third side to hunt down the Foxes.

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