So, it turns out Arsenal aren’t going to win every game for the rest of time after all.
Palace’s pair of penalties put paid to that. There’s no doubt they are in excellent form though, and Liverpool are too so what’s going to give on Saturday evening?
The history books may not be too much use when it comes to predicting this one. Since these sides last met, Arsenal have replaced Arsene Wenger with Unai Emery, while Jürgen Klopp has replaced his backline with a competent goalkeeper and defenders who can defend.
It’s a revolutionary tactic, but one which might just work.
Stalemates are more common in matches among the big six than in other Premier League games.
Never is this more true than when Liverpool are in town, as Klopp’s side have drawn a whopping 11 of their 23 league tussles with the big boys since the start of 2016/17.
The Merseysiders are also unbeaten against Arsenal under Klopp. Liverpool can’t say that for any other side from the big six either. The nerdy numbers from this season suggest 1-1 is the most likely score line, so perhaps have a bet on that at 13/2?
It’s also the joint-most common result in big league games over the past two years, if you need any further encouragement.
But the underlying statistics also present a dilemma when choosing how to bet on this match. Which Premier League team has over-performed the most against their attacking expected goals this season?
Arsenal, who’ve scored 24 times from chances worth roughly 15 goals.
Who has done better than expected at the back? No prizes for guessing it’s Liverpool, with four goals conceded from chances valued at around eight. The outcome of the battle at this end of the pitch could determine the match outcome for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the team which scores first rarely loses league clashes between members of the big six. There have been 49 matches since August 2016 which haven’t been drawn, and 43 of them have been won by the team who scored first.
There’s also the small matter of Arsenal’s Jekyll and Hyde record this season. Mr Hyde has been at play in the first halves of matches, where the Gunners have the fourth worst record in the Premier League.
Fortunately for them, Dr Jekyll rides to the rescue and they have the best second half record in the top flight.
So if, and it’s a massive bloody if, Arsenal can get ahead in this match early on, they stand a great chance of getting a result.
The problem is, they’ve only scored first in six of their last 22 league matches against the other big clubs. For Liverpool that figure stands at 15 from 23, so get on the visitors to score first at 4/6.
Liverpool’s front three all have good records against Arsenal too. Sadio Mané has scored in three of his four matches for the Reds against the Gunners. Mohamed Salah has scored in his three games against Arsenal for Chelsea and Liverpool. Yeah, even Chelsea Salah scored against them.
As for Roberto Firmino, if he scores and assists a goal in this match, then according to Stats Zone he’ll become the first player to ever achieve that feat in four successive games against the same opponent.
The Brazilian’s last league goal was scored in north London, but he’s barely had a shot in domestic games since so he isn’t exactly due one.
While Salah is the favourite to score, at 5/6, I like the look of Mané’s slightly longer odds. The Senegalese international looked the liveliest of Liverpool’s attacking trident against Cardiff last weekend, plus he is also the Reds’ top league scorer with six goals. Mané is 5/1 to open the scoring, or 6/5 to net at any time.
Only two players have scored more Premier League goals than him this season. One of them is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
However, while the former Dortmund man has bagged 17 goals in the Premier League for the Gunners, he hasn’t yet scored against a big six team. That run will end eventually though.
Another interesting quirk of his record is that all seven of his league goals in 2018/19 have been in the second halves of matches.
On that basis, a flutter on Aubameyang to score last is worth considering, at 5/1.
Whether the aforementioned players score or not, it seems likely there will be a few goals.
There are 15 combinations of match-ups within the big six, and since the start of 2016/17 it’s Arsenal and Liverpool who have shared the most goals.
Three of the last 68 league games featuring two of the top sides have seen at least six goals, and two of them have been this exact fixture.
A bet on over at 5.5 goals – at 13/2, in case you’re curious – is probably pushing things too far, but over 2.5 goals looks very much on the cards. It’s priced at just 9/20, but I wouldn’t rule out over 3.5 at 6/5.
A final tip is to bet ‘yes’ in both teams to score. It has paid out in 10 of Liverpool’s 12 league trips to face other big clubs in the last two years.
That’s probably why Paddy has priced it at just 4/9. He’s smarter than he looks, you know.
* All odds correct at time of posting.