Arsene Wenger’s record of guiding Arsenal to the Champions League for nineteen consecutive years is a remarkable achievement. But the Premier League was wide open last season, and Arsenal conspicuously blew their chance, showing all of their old weaknesses. Despite having plenty of money to spend this summer, Wenger has not noticeably strengthened up front or, crucially, in defence, and a slow start could signal trouble for a manager in the last year of his contract.
Liverpool’s fans have embraced the enthusiasm of Jurgen Klopp and enjoyed some entertaining football last season, as well as two cup finals. Still, it is worth noting that they ended up eighth in the Premier League, their joint-worst finish in the top division since 1963. Seven players have arrived at Anfield in the summer, but it feels as though there is yet more rebuilding work to be done, and a rolling injury crisis that stretches back to January this year is hampering the club’s progress.
Arsenal vs. Liverpool – H2H Stats
The rivalry between these two grand old clubs goes all the way back to 1893 when the Gunners lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool in a Division Two game.
Since then, supremacy in this fixture has ebbed and flowed, with Liverpool dominant in the 1970s and 1980s and Arsenal generally having the better of it since the 1990s. Overall, the Merseysiders edge it with 83 wins to Arsenal’s 78 and 59 games drawn, but they’ve only beaten Arsenal once in their last ten meetings.
Both of their matches in the Premier League last season finished as draws, but they were very different games. The first, at the Emirates in August, was a cagey 0-0 affair, but the return game was a thriller, in which both teams scored twice in the first half hour and Liverpool earned a 3-3 draw when a late strike from Joe Allen cancelled out a second half goal from Olivier Giroud.
Arsene Wenger’s tactics in this game are not likely to depart too much from the usual formula. The embarrassment of midfield riches he has at his disposal means that once again, the emphasis will be on swarming the central areas, retaining possession and waiting patiently for the gaps to appear in Liverpool’s back line, which, judging from what we saw from the Reds last season, will be plentiful and frequent.
It is a lot harder to be prescriptive about Liverpool’s approach, given Jurgen Klopp’s penchant for unorthodox tactics. But Klopp’s sides invariably try to get onto the front foot and with five first-choice defenders currently on the injury list, both the inclination and necessity point to an aggressive high-pressing game from the visitors.
Arsenal vs. Liverpool Odds & Betting Markets
With varying levels of fitness and new players settling in, opening games can be unpredictable, and it’s also true that in recent seasons, Arsenal has made a habit of starting slowly and have won their opening game in only one of their last six campaigns.
This probably helps to explain why an Arsenal win is available at odds against with many bookmakers, but I think this could be a mistake. For all of their frailties, Arsenal was a much better team than Liverpool last season, and there is no reason to assume that the Reds have overtaken them yet.
It’s true that, at the time of writing, the Gunners are short of defensive cover for centre-halves Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, but Liverpool’s defensive worries are far worse. With five defensive players missing, the visitors’ back line will have a makeshift feel to it, and given that Klopp’s side are likely to try to press their opponents to compensate for their own weaknesses, Arsenal’s dominant midfield will have plenty of space to work with.
Assuming they are on their game, Arsenal should be able to win this and look a good bet at 6/5 with BetVictor.
Odds for Total Goals
The last time these two sides met, they served up a six-goal thriller at Anfield, and that was not an unusual case. Their recent encounters have tended to be high-scoring, with the last eight fixtures yielding an average of 3.75 goals per game.
With both sides looking weak at the back, this should be a fairly open affair, and it makes sense to go with Over 2.5 in the Total Goals market with 888Sport at odds of 42/41.
Odds on Liverpool Clean Sheet
Under Jurgen Klopp Liverpool score plenty but concede their fair share too. Their only Premier League clean sheet in 2016 came against a woeful Aston Villa side and I think they will struggle to contain Arsenal.
Back ‘No’ at 2/9 in the Liverpool Clean Sheet market with Bet365.