Liverpool v Arsenal: Can Gunners firepower blast Klopp’s table-toppers?

We're crossing the half way point of the 2018/19 Premier League season on Saturday, and the biggest match sees Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield....

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The Reds have made their best start to a campaign in the Premier League era, having yet to lose a game. They’ve conceded just two goals in their last 14 league matches at home. They have players who could lay serious claim to being the best goalkeeper, defender or attacker in the division.

They’re in formidable form, and will take some stopping. Though Dejan Lovren recently said he hopes they could go the season unbeaten, the pessimistic end of the Liverpool fan base assume their comeuppance isn’t too far away. But they haven’t been in better form since they last won the league.

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Is it Liverpool’s year? Back them for the title on PaddyPower.com

Arsenal are far harder to read. They recently went on a 22 match unbeaten run, but their opponents in that time included the likes of Voskla, Qarabag, Blackpool and Manchester United. They had an impressive victory over Tottenham, but then lost to them in the Carabao Cup two weeks later. However, they scored at least twice in every away league game prior to their match at Brighton on Boxing Day, so will threaten Liverpool’s fine defensive record more than most teams will this season.

Well. That all depends if you put more faith in real goals or expected ones. If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least aware of the latter. The Gunners have scored 21 away goals from chances worth about 12, and few of their results have gone to plan according to the underlying statistics. Based on the quality of the chances, they probably should’ve had a point at Chelsea and Southampton but lost both games, though they also ought to have drawn at Cardiff and Fulham where they won.

Too long; didn’t read – the stats are predicting a 2-0 home win, and I think that sounds about right. It’s available at 7/1 if you think it sounds about right too.

Arsenal’s record in big matches on the road is so poor that it’s hard to forecast any other outcome, even if they’ve only had two against fellow top sides since Unai Emery took charge. Since the start of 2016/17, the Gunners have taken just three points from their trips to the rest of the big six – a 0-0 draw at Chelsea last season, and two draws with Mourinho’s United. It’s safe to assume Klopp’s Liverpool will attack far more than José’s stodgy mob did.

But then Arsenal will probably go forward more effectively than on their last two visits to Anfield too. They may have lost 4-0 last season, but you have to go back to 2006 to the previous occasion they didn’t net on the red half of Merseyside.

Of the 22 teams Klopp has faced more than once in the Premier League, his tussles with Arsenal have seen the most goals per game – 4.8 – with both teams scoring in all but the aforementioned 4-0 from 2017/18.

Maybe the nerdy numbers are off the mark with their 2-0 prediction?

After all, deserved or not, both teams have scored in all nine of Arsenal’s away matches this season, and there have been over 2.5 goals in eight of them. From a punting perspective, this is a clash of styles which makes it very tough to call.

While I think a 2-0 Liverpool win sounds about right, I think the madness of the Gunners’ away form will lead to a bit of a goal fest. I’ll be on ‘yes’ in the both teams to score market, at 6/10, and over 2.5 goals at 1/2. These bets rely on Arsenal scoring, but I think they definitely can.

Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang-(R)

They certainly have a chance if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has anything to say on the matter. He has already scored six away league goals this season, which is one more than his combined efforts for Arsenal and Dortmund in the last campaign.

Ten of his total of 13 have been in the second halves of matches, and no player in the division has scored the final goal of a game more times than he has. It looks sensible to back him as a last scorer rather than a first scorer based on his record, which is available at 6/1, or if you prefer to go any time, that’s priced at 6/4.

For the home side, I’d never dissuade you from betting on Salah. How could I, when he has a record of 36 goals in 40 appearances at Anfield? The Egyptian king is unsurprisingly the favourite in the betting, at 16/5 to open the scoring or 8/13 to net at some point.

One man who is due a goal on Liverpool’s patch is Roberto Firmino. It’s now almost nine months since he scored a league goal at Anfield which is frankly ridiculous. He’s also in the Premier League’s top ten players for expected goals this season, and has scored fewer than he should have so may have a good run soon.

If you need another reason, Firmino has scored five goals against Arsenal in the past, making them his joint-favourite opponent for Liverpool. He’s 11/10 to add his name and sparkling teeth to the score sheet.

With this much firepower on display it seems safe to expect a few goals. But will the real Arsenal turn up? And how good are they anyway? It’s Liverpool to edge an entertaining match for me.

    *All odds correct at time of posting
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