Gameweek 21 of the English Premier League sees Arsenal travel to Anfield on Wednesday night to take on Liverpool in the biggest match of the round. The Gunners have dominated this fixture in recent seasons having won five of their last nine encounters with just one defeat which came in the 2013/14 campaign. These sides played to a goalless draw in the reverse tie and with both teams in need of points for their own reasons, we should be in for a cracker of a match.
To Win (90mins)
Liverpool started the New Year in the worst possible way – a 2-0 defeat to West Ham with former striker Andy Carroll sealing the winner. Things only get more difficult as they lock horns with Arsenal - who are fighting to claim their first league title since 2004. Manager Jurgen Klopp will demand better from his talented side and will look to find the same kind of form that saw them topple the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Leicester.
The Reds tend to raise their game against tougher opponents and will need to be at their best if they are to secure their first league win of 2016. Their home form of late has been impressive – unbeaten in four matches in all competitions with three wins including a 2-1 victory over Bordeaux in the Europa League. It all just depends on what Liverpool side will turn up on the day. Klopp will still be without the services of Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Sturridge, while James Milner and Jordan Henderson remain fitness doubts.
There are many dangerous players and huge scoring threats with the likes of Roberto Firmino, Jordon Ibe, Adam Lallana and Christian Benteke. Coutinho is the puppeteer in midfield, pulling the strings in attack and creating chance after chance even when his pass is not the final one before the ball is dispatched into the back of the net. He will cause all sorts of problems with his free roaming; dropping deeper to involve himself in play and getting further forward when Liverpool have possession to both create and score goals. Further up the pitch, Liverpool will rely on Benteke to rattle Arsenal’s defence and score the goals that win the game. Benteke not only scores goals but is strong, makes good runs and has a powerful aerial presence. With the creative talent of Coutinho providing chances for Benteke, Liverpool will have goalscoring opportunities.
Arsenal stayed top of the Premier League table as they ground out a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium last weekend. Laurent Koscielny scored the decisive goal deep into the second half which secured maximum points. Their performance for the majority of the game left much to be desired, as they struggled to get the ball to Mesut Ozil and were overrun in midfield.
Nevertheless, their ability to weather such a storm—in no small part thanks to Petr Cech—and then grind out a win is the hallmark of champions, and they'll need to show such resilience in their upcoming fixtures against Liverpool, Stoke City and Chelsea. Arsene Wenger will be confident his Arsenal side have the mental strength to challenge for the Premier League title this season. Their victory over Newcastle is proof they have acquired a resilience they perhaps lacked in the past. Arsenal last won the league in 2004, two years before relocating from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, and Wenger believes the current crop have a charisma that sets them apart from his teams of the intervening decade. In Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Petr Cech and Olivier Giroud, Wenger has an experienced core of senior players who have won titles at their former clubs and countries, which should stand Arsenal in good stead as the season builds to its climax.
Despite Liverpool’s inconsistency this season, they have raised their game against the big teams and Arsenal will need to be at their best. Their away form is a bit of a concern with just one win in their last four away matches with two defeats, including their 4-0 loss at Southampton. The Gunners will welcome the return of Alexis which will come as a massive boost to Arsenal’s title push. Sanchez offers pace, trickery and goals – keeping him quiet will be incredibly difficult for Klopp. Ozil has been the catalyst for much of Arsenal’s forward momentum and he’s looking every bit the £42.5m player. He will be the man they look to for inspiration, guile and that little bit of quality in the final third.
Betting Verdict: Arsenal 29/20
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last four meetings against Liverpool with two victories. The Gunners come into the clash with successive wins over Bournemouth and Newcastle – keeping clean sheets in both – while the Reds were outplayed in their 2-0 defeat to West Ham last time out. With Ozil in the form of his life, along with the return of Alexis, Arsenal should pile further misery on Klopp’s side.
Bet on these matches now at Hollywoodbets.net! Haven’t got an account? Open one here.