Our first top-of-the-table clash of the season is on Saturday evening 5.30pm, where both Liverpool and Arsenal have six points out of six.
Neither club has faced a side expected to finish in the top half of the table though, so this is the first big league match for both Liverpool and Arsenal this season.
The Gunners’ manager Unai Emery has joked that his side don’t want to face Liverpool, but his defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos has been far more bullish, claiming it might be easier than facing Burnley. Big words from a man who was left on his arse by Roberto Firmino and then conceded a penalty the last time he played Liverpool.
I’ll let you decide if facing Mané and Salah is easier than facing Barnes and Wood, but whether it is or not, I still don’t fancy Arsenal to get a result here. Since they inflicted the first home defeat of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool tenure in 2012, the Gunners have drawn two and lost four of their visits to the red half of Merseyside, with an aggregate score of 22-8.
Three of the four losses have been by four goals, for heaven’s sake, Sokratis.
And Arsenal’s road woes in massive matches are not confined to Anfield. They are win-less in their last 22 away games against other teams from the big six, having only picked up eight points in that sequence. Such runs always end eventually – though with Arsenal, you never know – but it’s hard to see it happening on Saturday.
Jürgen Klopp’s team have won their last 11 league matches, scoring at least twice every time, and are unbeaten in their last 39 league games at Anfield. The red machine is in full effect and should overpower the visitors.
Selection: Liverpool to win at 1/2
Arsenal may be routinely hopeless on their travels, but they usually find the back of the net in the big games. Emery’s boys scored in all five away league matches against the rest of the top six last season, picking up seven goals in total. Their run at Anfield is even stronger, having only failed to score on one of their last 16 visits.
But they also usually concede, having done so in their last eight league away matches against the big boys. The last six games between these sides in Liverpool have all paid out on over 2.5 goals, and five of them saw both teams score. With Adrian liable to kick the ball at Aubameyang and into the net, Arsenal should get on the score sheet.
Selection: Both teams to score at 1/2.
Selection: Over 2.5 goals at 2/5.
Whether Liverpool’s stand-in stopper assists him or not, Aubameyang seems the obvious scorer bet for the Gunners. The former Dortmund man won a Golden Boot last season, and has scored the winner of both of Arsenal’s matches so far in 2019/20. But has hasn’t had much joy against the top sides in England.
Two of his three goals have been penalties, and even with them, he has scored once every 356 minutes against the rest of the big six, compared to every 94 minutes versus the rest of the league. Flat track bully, anyone?
So for better value, I’m going for Alexandre Lacazette. He scored against Liverpool last season, and has scored five ‘big six’ league goals in the last two years, the most of any Arsenal player.
Selection: Alexandre Lacazette to score at 23/10.
Despite Sokratis’ claims, any one of the Reds’ illustrious front three could score on Saturday, as they’ve all done well against Arsenal in the past. Sadio Mané scored a brilliant goal in his Liverpool debut at the Emirates, Mo Salah opened his Anfield account in the Premier League against the Gunners, while Firmino scored a hat-trick in this fixture last December.
The Brazilian seems to really love punishing Arsenal. With eight goals in eight appearances they are his favourite Premier League opponent, and seven of those strikes have been at Anfield. Firmino has netted every time he’s faced the Gunners on home turf, so back him to do so again. Five in a row and he gets to keep them, they’re the rules.
Selection: Firmino to score first at 4/1.
*Prices correct at time of posting