Two of the most successful teams in the history of the FA Cup meet when Arsenal host Liverpool at the Emirates on Sunday in the fifth round of this year’s competition (16:00 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Arsenal come into the match on the back of a slight stumble in form that has seen them win just one of their last four matches. They are, however, still well placed in the Premier League table, just a point behind leaders Chelsea with 56 points from 17 wins, five draws and six defeats.
The Gunners, 10-time FA Cup winners, secured their place in the fifth round with home wins over local rivals Tottenham Hotspur and League One side Coventry City, going ahead relatively early in both ties and thereafter asserting their dominance to emerge victorious. As they have done on numerous occasions this season, they kept clean sheets in both.
Arsene Wenger’s side were blown away by Liverpool when the sides met in the Premier League last weekend, going in four goals down at half-time, but their defence has generally been very solid this season. They have the best home defensive record and the second best overall defensive record in the league, alongside a league second-best 12 clean sheets.
The Gunners have struggled a little in front of goal recently and were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Manchester United on Wednesday. Olivier Giroud missed four decent chances and after a good start to the season now has just three goals in his last 13 matches. Mezut Ozil has provided just one assist and no goals in his last nine matches.
Wenger will definitely be without Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Abou Diaby (knee), Kim Kallstrom (back) and Theo Walcott (knee) for this, while Thomas Vermaelen (calf) could also miss out. Mathieu Flamini returns from suspension and is likely to go straight into the starting lineup.
Liverpool come into this match on the back of a run of seven league matches undefeated that has seen them close to within four points of Premier League leaders Chelsea with 53 points from 16 wins, five draws and five defeats.
The seven-time FA Cup winners progressed to the fifth round courtesy of victories at home to Oldham and away to Bournemouth, both by two goals to nil. Brendan Rodgers (pictured above) sent out a strong team that included Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard for the latter tie and with no European commitments Liverpool can afford to take the competition seriously.
Attack has clearly been Liverpool’s biggest strength this season, with their scoring rate of 2.54 goals per match bettered only by Manchester City’s. Liverpool attack quickly and incisively, with the likes of Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling providing good supply and support for the stellar strike partnership of Sturridge and Suarez.
The Reds have not been anywhere near as impressive at the other end of the pitch, although injuries have certainly played their part, making it difficult for Rodgers to select a consistent unit. Indeed, of the defenders at his disposal, only Martin Skrtel has started over 70% of the club’s league matches. Summer signing Mamadou Sakho has struggled to maintain fitness.
Sakho (hamstring) is one of three confirmed absentees for Sunday’s match, alongside Jose Enrique (knee) and Lucas Leiva (knee). Daniel Agger (calf) and Glen Johnson (ankle/groin) are back in full training and could be included in the squad.
Arsenal v Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
These two teams have scored a victory apiece in the league meetings between them this season, with Arsenal triumphing 2-0 at the Emirates and Liverpool winning 5-1 at Anfield last weekend. There have been five wins for Arsenal, two for Liverpool and three draws in their last 10 meetings in all competitions.
Arsenal will have one eye on their Champions League tie at home to Bayern Munich next Wednesday and Wenger could elect to rest some of his first team regulars with that fixture in mind. He has good cover in some areas of the squad but options are limited in other positions, including up front, where Giroud is unlikely to be risked.
Liverpool come into the match high on confidence after scoring eight goals over the course of the last week, including five against Sunday’s opponents. With a full week until their next match they will be fully focused on progressing to the last eight and with Suarez, Sturridge and others in excellent form have a very good chance of doing just that.
- Back Liverpool to win @ best odds of 13/8 with Betfred, Coral and William Hill.
- Liverpool have scored 13 more first half goals than any other side in the Premier League this season, with 65% of their goals scored before the interval. If they can take a lead into the break Arsenal will be forced to chase the game thereafter, opening up space for them to strike on the counter. Back Liverpool to score in both halves @ best odds of 11/5 with Unibet.