Sunday, January 22, 2017

Prediction: Liverpool vs Arsenal

Dark horses Liverpool host Premier League leaders Arsenal hoping to kick-start their title bid following the costly setback against West Brom at the Hawthorns. Meanwhile, the Gunners will be looking to remain at the league summit after week 25 and get one step closer to winning the coveted title.

Liverpool may have failed to keep up with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and City in the Premiership title chase, but they appear to be course to the first top 4 finish in five years. The lack of strength in depth is proving to be a major issue as the Reds simply do not have as many quality players as their title rivals, but their strongest starting line-up can certainly beat anyone on their day. For the first time after quite a while, Liverpool have Suarez, Sturridge and Gerrard all fit at the same time, but they are missing almost entire starting back four as well as important midfielder Lucas Leiva. In spite of all their worries, the Reds hammered Everton in the Merseyside derby and were close to winning at the Hawthorns as well, that is until the moment Kolo Toure gifted the Baggies an equalizer and cost his side two precious points. As a result, Liverpool sit eight points adrift of Premier League leaders and next opponents Arsenal and while they could revive their title bid by winning at Anfield, the hosts are unlikely to go all guns blazing at their opponents. With Johnson, Enrique, Sakho, Agger and Lucas still missing, the Reds will find it hard to get revenge for the 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture.

While many people continue to doubt Arsenal’s title chances, the Gunners are still in the driving seat having just increased their advantage at the top to two points. With 14 games to go, it won’t be easy for Arsene Wenger’s side to hold off challenge from Chelsea and Manchester City, but they are taking one game at the time and continue to show a lot of character. The Gunners have once again been hit with injuries and suspensions, with even new signing Kim Kallstrom arriving injured, but unlike their next opposition, Arsenal do have quality cover for the absentees. While Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey continue to miss out, Jack Wilshere should be back to the side, whereas Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could not have found better time to return into contention. The England international produced two excellent performances to prove the injury is behind him and after scoring both goals in the victory over Crystal Palace, he could keep his place in the starting line-up. With Mesut Ozil raising his form and Santi Cazorla back to his best, Arsenal look they can get at least one point from Anfield.

Conclusion

Liverpool may boast a formidable attack, but the second-string defence continues to make costly mistakes, with 29 of these already noted and the latest costing them two points at the Hawthorns. Meanwhile, Arsenal appear to be still going strong and I expect them to remain at the Premiership summit after the match at Anfield.

Verdict: Arsenal not to lose

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: bet365

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