The Premier League campaign is only just entering its third week, and already there is a clash of the titans to savour on Sunday when Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield.
Both of these teams will have aspirations of finishing inside the top four, and thus booking themselves a place in next season’s Champions League. But with both Manchester teams looking strong, Chelsea nearing their best and Tottenham a quality young side, fixtures like this could prove vitally important by the end of the season.
So who will take the early bragging rights on Sunday?
The bookmakers have had a tough time in determining a favourite for this match, and they have just about come down on the side of Liverpool with a best price of 23/20 available from bet365.
There will be plenty of shrewd punters eyeing the 13/5 available from SkyBet about an Arsenal victory, while perhaps the most sensible selection of the lot in tight matches like these – the draw – can be backed at 63/25 with Marathon Bet.
So where is the smart money? These are two teams that boast identical credentials: both are excellent going forward, but neither can lay claim to being the best defensively.
Those qualities have been in abundance already this term, and the season is barely three weeks old! Liverpool put three past Watford in their opening encounter and have since followed up by putting six past Hoffenheim in 180 Champions League minutes.
But defensively the vulnerability is obvious: they have conceded at least once in three of their four outings thus far, and perhaps should have done in the other when Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke missed a glorious opportunity.
Arsenal have conceded four in two, and it is clear that Arsene Wenger’s fixation with playing three at the back is not working. But they scored against former champions Leicester, and £47 million signing Alexandre Lacazette has shown glimpses of genuine quality already in a red shirt.
There is very little to choose between the two sides, although two variables are in Liverpool’s favour: they are typically excellent at home (W12 D5 L2 last season in the league at Anfield), and generally raise their game when playing one of the division’s so-called ‘big six’ teams.
For that reason, siding with the Reds is just about the best bet to be had in this market.
Individual Goal Scorers
Both of the attacking units on show here will be licking their lips in anticipation at facing such a leaky pair of defences.
The Liverpool front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have been in excellent form already this season; scoring goals, creating chances for others and generally just being an all-round nuisance of a gang.
Of the trio it is Mane, since switching to the left flank, that has impressed the most. His pace and guile when cutting in on his favoured right foot can be devastating, so the 7/4 on him to score anytime available with Paddy Power holds plenty of appeal.
Arsenal failed to register in their last start against Stoke but they did fire in 18 shots – six of which were on target. It just so happened that Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland was in fine form.
The Gunners’ spearhead is undoubtedly Lacazette, whose pace and movement is reminiscent of that great Arsenal hero, Thierry Henry. He should have plenty of joy against an occasionally hapless Liverpool backline, and the 19/10 available with Ladbrokes on the Frenchman to find the net is fair value.
Other Side Bets
Goals, and lots of them: that’s been the general theme when Liverpool and Arsenal have met in recent times.
Of their last ten encounters, eight have witnessed both teams scoring and three or more goals in the match, and given what we know about the sides this year that seems like a possibility once again. Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals can be backed at 5/6 with Paddy Power.
- Liverpool to Win – 23/20 with bet365
- Sadio Mane to Score Anytime – 7/4 with Paddy Power
- Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals – 5/6 with Paddy Power