Arsenal can secure their first home points of the season when they host Liverpool at the Emirates on Monday (20:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Arsenal finished third last season but had been touted as potential title challengers in the build up to the new campaign. That appraisal was thrown into doubt by their opening-day defeat to West Ham, but they recovered to win away to Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Olivier Giroud (pictured) gave Arsene Wenger’s side an early lead at Selhurst Park and while their hosts equalised shortly after it was Arsenal who continued to look the more dangerous side in an open match between two attack-minded teams. Their advantage was restored by an own goal early into the second half and they held out from there to take all three points.
It was a strong performance from the Gunners. Their goal was incredibly slick, with Mesut Ozil crossing for Giroud to volley home, while the movement and combination play between Santi Cazorla and those in the attacking-midfield line was regularly a joy to watch. There was far more zip and imagination to their play than there had been in the defeat to West Ham.
The purchase of Petr Cech from Chelsea represents Arsenal’s sole piece of summer transfer window business to date and it will be interesting to see if they make any further additions between now and the 1st September deadline. Competition for defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin, who was fortunate not be sent off against Palace, should be their priority.
Wenger will definitely be without the injured trio of Danny Welbeck (knee), Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (knee) for this game.
Liverpool finished sixth in the Premier League last season and will be hoping to put together a stronger challenge for a top-four finish this time around. Back-to-back victories have certainly provided them with a good start to the campaign.
Brendan Rodgers’ side benefited from an offside goal from Christian Benteke to record a 1-0 win over newly-promoted Bournemouth on Monday. They did create the better chances of the match, while their visitors were unable to seriously test Simon Mignolet (aside from a questionably disallowed goal), but it was again a far from fluid performance from the Reds.
Liverpool came very close to winning the Premier League title two seasons ago but the current side has little in common with that swashbuckling outfit, particularly in the final third. Luis Suarez departed for Barcelona last summer, Raheem Sterling left for Manchester City this summer, while Daniel Sturridge continues to suffer from regular injury problems.
The new Liverpool, bolstered by six summer signings, are still finding their way and trying to adapt their play to the strengths of Benteke – at £32 million, their most expensive purchase. This is an important season for Rodgers’ future at the club and in the circumstances it is understandable that he has elected to lean on his defence during its early weeks.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Sturridge (hip), Joe Allen (hamstring) and Jon Flanagan (knee) for the trip to the Emirates, while Jordan Henderson (foot) is doubtful.
Arsenal vs Liverpool Preview’s Betting Tips
Arsenal were comfortable 4-1 winners in last season’s equivalent fixture and have generally enjoyed the better of recent encounters between the sides. The Gunners have won five and lost just one of the last eight meetings in all competitions (which include a 2-2 draw at Anfield last season) and have the same record across the last eight encounters at the Emirates.
Arsenal struggled for consistency during the first half of last season and will be keen to avoid a recurrence of that this time around. Their attacking play was very impressive in last weekend’s victory over Palace, and after scoring six times against Liverpool last season they will be confident of causing the visiting defence plenty of problems in this match.
Liverpool are yet to concede but that record will be severely tested at the Emirates. Two wins out of two represents a good start to the season but it would be fair to say that they were not hugely impressive in either match. They look like a side who are still working out their play style and that is likely to see them come unstuck against the Gunners.
We expect Monday’s match to be a relatively high-scoring encounter, and our preview’s verdict is that Arsenal will be the most likely victors.
- Back Arsenal to win on the “match result and over 2.5 goals” market @ 31/20 with Boylesports.
- Giroud scored in both of last season’s matches between these sides and opened his account for the new season with the first goal in Arsenal’s win over Palace last weekend. Back Olivier Giroud to score at anytime @ best odds of 6/4 with SkyBet.
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