29th January 2013
Having stabilized their form over the last few weeks, Arsenal will attempt to record a third consecutive victory and edge closer to the Champions League places, whereas Liverpool need to try and make amends for the embarrassing FA Cup defeat to Oldham and possibly return to the race for European places.
This season has been a real rollercoaster ride for Arsenal, but it is not as if their fans are not already used to watching their team go from hero to zero and other way around in just few weeks. The inconsistency has been the biggest problem this term, as the Gunners just couldn’t notch up a few good results in a row, so they will be very motivated to continue the current promising run. Following the narrow defeat to Chelsea, Arsene Wenger’s side showed a lot of character to come from behind and record a 5-1 win over West Ham, before overcoming very good Brighton side in the FA Cup. While the two wins alone were seen as major confidence boost, everybody at the club was delighted to see Olivier Giroud score four goals in the process to prove he has what it takes to play at this level. The Gunners now have a good chance to close the gap behind their top 4 rivals as they take on Liverpool just three days after the Reds were eliminated from the FA Cup by League One side Oldham. Arsene Wenger will have captain Thomas Vermaelen back from an ankle problem, but Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin remain sidelined.
Following a very disappointing start to the season and some under-par performances, Liverpool began to show signs of improvement at the start of December, and they looked really good at the turn of the year, recording three straight victories in all competitions. With new signing Daniel Sturridge bringing a new dimension to attack and getting the weight off Luis Suarez’s shoulders, the Reds continued to improve and even hinted they would be able to return to the top 4 race. However, then came the FA Cup defeat to Oldham and it’s now back to the drawing board for Brendan Rodgers. The talented manager was quick to blame his youngsters for the disappointing defeat, but he probably forgot the likes of Suarez, Allen, Sturridge, Skrtel and Borini had also been on the pitch. Liverpool should indeed look better when Steven Gerrard, Stuart Downing, Lucas Leiva and other first team regulars return against Arsenal, but I doubt the Reds will have enough in them to stop in-form Arsenal.
Arsenal showed a lot of character to overcome two very difficult opponents last week and the Gunners look ready to extend their winning run to three matches in all competitions. FA Cup defeat to Oldham is likely to serve as a huge blow to the player’s confidence at Anfield, so I doubt the Reds will be able to match very good Arsenal side.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 29/20