Verdict: Both team to score – yes
Best Odds: 7/10
Clash between Arsenal and Liverpool is the pick of the fixtures on the Premier League opening round in the new 2016/17 season. Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp want a strong start to the fresh campaign and a win over big rivals is the best way possible to kick off.
Arsene Wenger and all the Arsenal fans surely got used to it by now, the new season comes at the worst moment possible squad-wise. Injury crisis has once again hit Gunners who open the new Premier League season without two of their first-team defenders. Per Mertesacker has been ruled out for five months with a knee injury, while Gabriel had added insult to injury with his ankle problem that is likely to see him miss the first five weeks of action. Laurent Koscielny will have to be rushed back into action as Arsene Wenger struggles to field a competitive line-up against Reds. Arsenal have had a fairly successful preseason having ratcheted up an impressive record of 17 goals in five friendly matches over summer. Their consistent showing have still been overshadowed by the chronic lack of transfer dealings at the moment when other Premier League title contenders are making heavy investments in rebuilding their squads. Rob Holding and Takuma Asano are not exactly the players that will take Arsenal’s performances to another level and Granit Xhaka is the only one of the three summer signings who could be considered a valuable addition to the first team. Wenger has been criticised for his lack of activity, but recent developments have forced the French tactician to make moves in the market. A deal for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi appears to be done while Wenger is also trying to lure Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu. Gunners still need additions in forward department and a deal for Alexandre Lacazette is still on the table.
Arsenal will have plenty of problems fielding a respectable back line against Liverpool. Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are out, playing Koscielny is a gamble and Wenger is likely to go for Calum Chambers and Rob Holding as the centre back duo.
Summer arrival Xhaka is expected to start in the midfield, while Aaron Ramsey could take Mesut Ozil’s place for the opener. Germany international has only just returned from holiday and is unlikely to feature, together with Olivier Giroud.
The upcoming season will be a defining one for Jurgen Klopp, who has had a full summer to get his team ready and geared up for the new Premier League campaign. Merseyside club have been fairly active in the transfer market, filling all the blanks with smart buys and wise investments. The likes of Sadio Mane, Giorgio Wijnaldum and Joel Matip will surely be great addition to the squad while Marko Grujic, a January signing from Red Star has perhaps been one of the biggest surprises for the Reds. The talented Serbian has scored three goals in preseason displaying great desire, commitment and dedication. Serbia international has won the hearts of the fans and could be in for an eventful season under Jurgen Klopp. Unlike their Premier League rivals who have spent a great deal of money on bringing big-name signing, Liverpool’s transfer dealing have largely went under the radar with the likes of Loris Karius and Ragnar Klavan not causing big fuss upon their arrival to Anfield. Reds played no less than nine pre-season friendlies with their form going up and down and with that 4-0 battering of Barcelona being the highlight of their summer so far. The fans are hopeful Klopp will be able to make Liverpool competitive again as the Reds take aim for the top 4 finish in the new season.
Similarly to Arsenal, Liverpool also have a couple of big injury headaches. Loris Karius is ruled out with a hand injury, while Joe Gomez and Mamadou Sakho are both doubtful.
There is a big question mark over the availability of Marko Grujic and James Milner, while Daniel Sturridge is currently going through a fresh nightmare with a hip problem preventing him from making it in the squad.
Key Factors to Consider
- An average of 3.6 goals were scored in the last 5 matches between the clubs
- Three of the last 5 games between Arsenal and Liverpool ended in draw
- Liverpool last won at the Emirates in August 2011
- Arsenal have lost only one of their last 15 matches in all competitions
- Liverpool either win or lost all of their last ten games
Emirates will host one of the most interesting game of the opening round in the Premier League with both Arsenal and Liverpool heading into the match with a couple of injuries to their key players. Opening game bears great significance and there is no doubt that both sides will be keen to make an impression at the start. We expect to see an openly contested game.
Verdict: Both team to score – yes
Best Odds: 7/10
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