The trends suggest we're in for goals at the Emirates
Arsenal v Liverpool, Sunday 4.00pm, Sky Sports 1
The first real slobber-knocker of the season sees Jurgen Klopp’s swashbuckling Liverpool side travel down to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal. The Gunners have once again endured a frustrating pre-season of watching the other top flight clubs splash the cash on mega-money signings, while Per Mertesacker gets comfortable on the treatment table and Mesut Ozil cries salty tears as Olivier Giroud wastes another delightfully weighted through-ball.
It’s been the same old story for Liverpool fans in the run-up to the new campaign as well. Klopp’s side dished out a 4-0 hammering to Barcelona at Wembley which caused delirium among fans who believed their name was already on the trophy. A 4-0 defeat to FSV Mainz 24 hours later was swiftly ignored.
So Liverpool head down south with plenty of confidence, while Arsene Wenger’s defensive nightmare blurs the form guide. But the Gunners are still favourites thanks to an increasingly dominant record against the Reds.
Many of the Kop faithful will be quick to point out that it wasn’t too long ago that Liverpool raced to a 4-0 lead over Arsenal inside 20 minutes, with the final score finishing 5-1 – but that is a bleak highlight in an otherwise frustrating record for the Reds.
They’ve won just three times out of the last 20 league fixtures against Arsenal – while their record away to the Gunners is painful. They’ve taken 11 league points from a possible 60 away to Arsenal in the last 20 games with their only victory in that time coming almost five years ago to the day courtesy of an Aaron Ramsey own goal and a Luis Suarez effort in stoppage time. You have to go back another 11 years to find Liverpool’s next win away to Arsenal in the league – a Titi Camara goal splitting the sides in February 2000.
Fortunately for every football punter who has struggled through the last five weeks to fill the void left by quality action, we are due a few goals – or the history books say we are at least. Both teams have found the net in 70 per cent of their last 20 head-to-head league clashes, while there’s been more than 2.5 goals in 10 of the 20 games.
The betting reflects the trends and both teams to score is a shot, with over 2.5 goals tempting us in at . Neither team are blessed with any real defensive stability right now with Arsenal’s Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertesacker sidelined through injury, and Frenchman Laurent Koscielny only returning to training this week. Liverpool’s defensive woes are harder to explain with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet still not inspiring confidence, while there are issues at centre-back after Mamadou Sakho was sent home from pre-season in the US for acting the giddy goat.
Arsenal to win and both teams to score therefore looks a tempting punt if you’re backing the trends at , while the for the Gunners to win and there to be over 2.5 goals also catches the eye. If you fancy starting the season with an optimistic bang however, the on Arsenal to win 2-1 might be the way to play Sunday’s clash. 26 per cent of Arsenal’s wins over the last two seasons have finished 2-1 and they’re a tempting price to get the 2016/17 season off to a flyer (before eventually crumbling in March and finishing fourth).