After 16 days without a game, Liverpool were expected to be champing at the bit when they faced Leicester on Monday night. Stats about Jurgen Klopp’s ability to get performances from his charges after extended time on the training ground did the rounds. But things didn’t quite go to plan: the Reds put in a limp display and allowed the demob-happy Foxes to record their first win this year.No doubt Klopp and the Liverpool fans will be expecting a reaction when Arsenal visit Anfield on Saturday evening, but recent results have not been convincing. They may have beaten Tottenham in mid-February (of which more below), but that was one of just two victories in 12 matches in all competitions. That the other came against Plymouth Argyle indicates just how much their form has tailed off since the turn of 2017.The Merseysiders will likely have to do without captain Jordan Henderson again here: the midfielder is still struggling with a foot injury. Dejan Lovren is believed to be closer to a return, so it could be a three-way battle between him, Lucas and Ragnar Klavan to start alongside Joel Matip at centre-back.
ArsenalTheir form might not be as bad at Liverpool’s, but Arsenal are hardly in a happy-clappy place either right now. Back-to-back defeats at the hands of Watford and Chelsea allowed Tottenham and Manchester City to leapfrog them in the Premier League standings, while the humbling defeat to Bayern Munich only amplified rumblings of discontent over Arsene Wenger’s reign.The Gunners should be well rested for this one; they haven’t played since grinding out a victory over Sutton United almost a fortnight ago – and most of their first-choice players were given that game off. Wenger must hope that will allow them to produce a higher level of performance than they managed in their last league game, when they toiled to break down Hull at the Emirates.Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny have been passed fit to play at Anfield after knocks, but the outlook is slightly less clear for Mesut Ozil: “We’ll see. I don’t know. He should be OK,” was all Wenger would volunteer when asked about the playmaker in his pre-match press conference.
Liverpool are solid 2.18 favourites here, which might initially strike you as short given their display at the King Power Stadium. But it’s clear there were some mitigating circumstances at play in that game and while they may not be in their best patch of form this season, their record against the top sides cannot be ignored.
Klopp’s charges are unbeaten in eight games against other top-six teams this term (W4 D4 L0), keeping three clean sheets. There should probably be one more tick in the wins column given that they squandered a couple of golden chances in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the end of January, but their performance against Spurs – a side on a similar level to Arsenal – indicated that they are a match for any side on their day.
Arsenal are not nearly so strong against their closest rivals: their record against the top six reads W1 D2 L3. Koscielny’s return will aid them, but they don’t look especially appealing at 3.75. The home win looks the bet.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Both of these sides tend towards the overs: 68% of Arsenal’s games have gone past the 2.5-goal mark, as have 58% of Liverpool’s. That and the fact that neither side can really defend form a solid opening argument for backing overs at 1.78.
A glance at the recent meetings strengthens the position: six of the last seven have gone over the line, while the previous three matches at Anfield have produced a whopping 16 goals. It would be a surprise if this one fails to deliver at least three.
Sadio Mane led the way for Liverpool in the victory over Tottenham and there should be ample opportunity to counter-attack against a side that likes to throw plenty of players forward when attacking. He scored against Arsenal in Liverpool’s 4-3 win at the Emirates on the opening weekend of the season and can be backed to do so again at 2.76.
Bobby Madley is the man in charge of this one. He has dished out 77 yellow cards and one red in 19 Premier League matches this term, booking five Liverpool players when they played Spurs back in August.
Back Liverpool to win at 2.18
Back over 2.5 goals at 1.78