Liverpool are in dire need of a good result when they host Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday (16:00 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
On the back of just two wins in their last eight Premier League matches, Liverpool recorded a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday. They are a lowly 11th in the table, with 21 points from six wins, three draws and seven defeats.
Brendan Rodgers’ side lost 3-0 away to Manchester United last weekend. Despite the final score, they did put together some promising attacking interchanges that should have yielded a goal or two – and doubtless would have if David de Gea had not been in such sparkling form in the home goal. However, Liverpool’s defensive deficiencies again proved decisive.
Last season’s surprise title push was predicated on one of the league’s swiftest and deadliest attacking units. The 101 goals they scored over the course of the campaign regularly papered over the cracks in their defensive setup. That has not been the case so far this season, yet Rodgers seems unable to adjust his approach in line with the current reality.
The Reds lack the pace and penetration provided by last season’s strike partnership of Luis Suarez (departed) and Daniel Sturridge (injured) and Rodgers is yet to concoct an effective solution, despite a heavy summer outlay on new players. His side are conceding a comparable number of goals per match to last season, while scoring less than half as many.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Sturridge (thigh), Jon Flanagan (knee), Glen Johnson (groin) and Suso (groin) for Sunday’s match, while Mario Balotelli will serve a one-match suspension as punishment for posting offensive content on one of his social media accounts. Dejan Lovren (groin) is doubtful.
Arsenal travel north on the back of five victories in their last six matches in all competitions. Their league form has been a tad inconsistent, but they are still sixth in the Premier League table, with 26 points from seven wins, five draws and four defeats.
The Gunners recorded an impressive 4-1 win at home to Newcastle last weekend. They have often struggled to make early breakthroughs at home so far this season but had no such problems on Saturday, with Olivier Giroud rising to head home on the quarter-hour mark. A second for Giroud and two goals from Santi Cazorla sealed a relatively easy victory.
The defensive performance was certainly far better than that in the 3-2 defeat away to Stoke the previous week. Mathieu Debuchy did a good job in an unfamiliar centre-back role, while Kieron Gibbs curtailed some of his usual attacking vigour to provide a more solid presence at left-back in order to counteract the regular forward bursts of Hector Bellerin on the right.
It was one of the few matches this season in which Arsenal have simultaneously functioned well in both defence and attack. Giroud provided a strong central presence up front, with Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck working off him. Newcastle failed to test the mobility of Arsenal’s lone defensive midfielder, Mathieu Flamini.
Arsene Wenger (pictured) will definitely be without the injured Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Laurent Koscielny (calf), Mesut Ozil (knee) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh) for Sunday’s match, while the participation of Abou Diaby (calf) and Mikel Arteta (calf) is highly doubtful. Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), Nacho Monreal (foot) and Theo Walcott (groin) should make it.
Liverpool v Arsenal Betting Tips
Liverpool blew Arsenal away with an awesome display of attacking football in the first half of their 5-1 victory in last season’s equivalent fixture. Arsenal won the reverse at the Emirates and also won 2-1 when the sides met in the FA Cup. The Gunners have a good recent record away to Liverpool, having won three and drawn two of the last six meetings at Anfield.
Liverpool have lacked both confidence and ideas through the majority of this season. The bright attacking play that was evident at times against United nevertheless came at the expense of defensive solidity. Rodgers has been unable to strike an effective balance between attack and defence, veering one way then the next.
Arsenal have been very inconsistent away from home in the league so far this season, drawing twice, winning thrice and losing on three occasions. Clean sheets accompanied all three of their away victories and if Wenger can get the organisation right, his side will be relatively confident of keeping another one against a misfiring Liverpool attack.
With sufficient firepower to trouble their hosts at the other end of the pitch, Arsenal look well placed to continue Liverpool’s poor run by taking all three points on Sunday.
- Back Arsenal to win @ best betting odds of 13/8 with BetVictor or William Hill.
- Arsenal have scored at least two goals in five of their last six matches against Liverpool in all competitions and indeed in four of their most recent six matches. Back Arsenal to score over 1.5 goals @ 15/13 with William Hill.