Two of the Premier League’s big guns meet when league leaders Arsenal travel to face Liverpool at Anfield in Saturday’s early kick-off game (12:45 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Liverpool have enjoyed an excellent season and are fourth in the Premier League table with 47 points from 14 wins, five draws and five defeats. They do, however, come into this match on the back of a slightly disappointing 1-1 draw away to West Bromwich Albion.
The Reds took the lead through Daniel Sturridge, but were unable to add to their advantage and came away with just a single point after Kolo Toure gifted Victor Anichebe a second half equaliser. It was a solid performance from Brendan Rodgers’ side, but they were nowhere near as dominant as in their previous match, a 4-0 home thrashing of local rivals Everton.
Worried about ceding control of the centre of the pitch, Rodgers pulled Philippe Coutinho back into a midfield three, crowding the centre and forcing Everton out to the flanks, from where they only intermittently threatened. Liverpool broke quickly and effectively, the front three of Sturridge, Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling causing mayhem in the away defence.
The swift movement of the ball into the final third has been a key part of Liverpool’s game this season. The highly potent attacking partnership of Sturridge and Suarez have reaped most benefit, with a combined 37 goals (64% of Liverpool’s total), but the quicker tempo has also brought the best out of Coutinho, Sterling and Jordan Henderson.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Jose Enrique (knee), Glen Johnson (groin and knee), Lucas Leiva (knee) and Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) for this match, while Daniel Agger (calf) is also likely to miss out despite making good progress over the last week.
Arsenal come into this game on the back of 10 matches undefeated in all competitions, eight of which were victories. They are two points clear at the top of the Premier League table with 55 points from 17 wins, four draws and three defeats.
The Gunners were 2-0 winners at home to Crystal Palace last weekend, with Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain scoring both goals in his first start since recovering from the knee injury that has ruled him out since mid-August. With Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott injured, and Olivier Giroud’s goal output best described as streaky, his is a welcome return.
Arsenal finished fourth in the Premier League last season, 16 points behind winners Manchester United and their improved form this season can, at least partially, be attributed to defensive improvements. To date, Arsenal have conceded a measly 0.88 goals per match, in comparison to 0.97 last season. They have kept a joint league-high of 11 clean sheets.
The Gunners’ scoring rate has dipped slightly in comparison to last season, but the overall result is a better goal difference per match, up from 0.92 last season to 1.08 in this. There is a good balance to Arsene Wenger’s side, with Mikel Arteta or Mathieu Flamini shielding the defence, allowing Ramsey, Mezut Ozil and Santiago Cazorla freedom to create in the final third.
Wenger (pictured above) will definitely be without the injured Abou Diaby (knee), Ramsey (thigh), Walcott (knee) and loan signing Kim Kallstorm (back). Mathieu Flamini is suspended following his red card against Southampton in late January, while Jack Wilshere (ankle) will face a late fitness test.
Liverpool v Arsenal Betting Tips Conclusion
Arsenal were comfortable 2-0 winners when these sides met at the Emirates earlier this season, with goals inside the first twenty minutes of each half from Cazorla and Ramsey seeing them to victory. Arsenal also triumphed by the same scoreline in last season’s equivalent fixture and are undefeated in the last six league meetings between these sides at Anfield.
Liverpool have been very good at home this season, winning 10, drawing one and losing one, with a positive goal difference of 25. The Everton victory has given Rodgers a tactical template for Saturday’s match, with Liverpool again likely to fill the middle of the pitch and look to break quickly upon winning possession.
Arsenal are one of the few teams to have successfully shackled both Sturridge and Suarez this season, but their defence has been less secure on their travels, where they have conceded nearly 75% of their goals. That has rarely proved problematic, however, with 25 goals of their own seeing them to a league joint-best eight victories away from home.
With both sides possessing strong attacking options we expect to see an attractive match that is most likely to end in a score draw.