Arsenal vs Liverpool | Monday 24 August | Emirates Stadium | 21:00
The biggest game of the English Premier League fixtures pits Arsenal and Liverpool against each other at the Emirates Stadium in what looks to be a high intensity match between two sides that thrive on attacking football.
To Win (90mins)
Arsenal return to the Emirates hoping for a better outcome than their 2-0 defeat against West Ham on the opening day. Their 2-1 victory away to Crystal Palace, along with their good record against Liverpool, will have restored some confidence ahead of the match with Brendan Rodgers’ new-look side. The Gunners are undefeated against the Reds at home in their last three league meetings having won the corresponding fixture 4-1 last season before drawing 2-2 at Anfield and winning 2-0 in the 2013/14 campaign. Arsenal are blessed with an influx of attacking talent that are irresistible to watch going forward and capable of dispatching any team with ease when at their best. The Gunners have pace and flair on the flanks and will no doubt use that to their advantage. They have skilful wingers who always look to attack and have the ability to beat their defenders. The danger man is Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean international terrorizes defences with his irrepressible movement and immaculate close control. He will use his pace and trickery to weave in and out of challenges and pile pressure on the Liverpool goal, whilst also charging back to help out the defence when needed. He could cause his opponents all kinds of problems with his pace and desire to go at defenders.
Mesut Ozil put in a sensational performance for Arsenal against Palace and his team will need him to be at his best again. The silky skilled German barely put a foot wrong all game and opened the Eagles up with some delightful passing. Arsenal’s number eleven will be looking to manipulate the Liverpool defenders and provide a constant attacking threat with his incredible vision and ability to pick a pass. Ozil’s technical brilliance allows him to do wonders with the ball at his feet, not only find space but also create the space out of nowhere. That is a characteristic that makes him stand out in a group of attacking midfielders. There’s been a lot of talk about Arsenal needing a world-class striker in their ranks with Karim Benzema reportedly on the club’s radar – and maybe they do – but Olivier Giroud showed that he can be relied upon when his team need him most. The Frenchman was a constant threat to Palace and scored a brilliant acrobatic header despite the cross being at least one yard behind him. Giroud has scored in each of his last two games against Liverpool and he’ll be raring to get on the scoresheet again.
Liverpool will be looking to maintain their excellent start to the season following 1-0 wins over Stoke and Bournemouth respectively. The Reds will now turn their attentions to Arsenal who they haven’t managed to beat in their last three attempts but the last time they did get one over the Gunners was in emphatic style as they won 5-1 at Anfield. Liverpool haven’t won at the Emirates since their 2-0 victory in the 2011/12 season but will be high in confidence of getting maximum points, especially after Arsenal’s miserable defeat to West Ham. This campaign Liverpool are looking dangerous and will cause numerous problems for opposing defences. The Reds are yet to concede a goal in the league so far which has mainly come down to the impressive partnership of Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren, who is revitalised and eager to prove his worth. The likes of Nathaniel Clyne and 18-year old Joe Gomez have also been an integral part of the back four, not only due to their defensive qualities but also their attacking prowess.
Liverpool will be sweating on the fitness of captain Jordan Henderson who is struggling with a foot injury. Henderson was substituted off after 52 minutes in Liverpool’s win over Bournemouth and Rodgers revealed he had painkilling injections before the match. The medical staff will be working around the clock to ensure he is fit to play. Philippe Coutinho will be key for Liverpool in this match. A playmaker with incredible speed, his quick feet and technical skill would impress even the harshest critic. Like a true Brazilian he has that samba flair, the ability to do the unexpected, and his dribbling is truly a pleasure to watch. He is not afraid to take on full-backs and there is that “freshness” in his dribbling that just keeps you guessing. Further up the pitch, Christian Benteke is a goal machine and already looks to have formed a lethal partnership with Coutinho, Jordon Ibe and Adam Lallana in attack. Crucially, the 24-year-old offers Liverpool a physical presence up front, meaning that they will always have the option of lofting longer balls for the Belgian to attack. Benteke’s strength will cause problems for Arsenal’s backline and should create space for Liverpool’s attacking midfielders.
VERDICT: Matchbet + BTTS - Arsenal & Yes 21/10
Both teams boast an enviable array of attacking talents which could see an open game with defences exposed. I foresee goals in this game and Both Teams to Score looks a banker at 7/10. With that being said, it should be a closely contested affair but Arsenal are tipped to make home advantage count. Take Arsenal to win + Both Teams to Score for more value at 21/10.