Friday 22nd December. 7:45PM. Sky Sports
The festive fixture list gets underway on Friday night, and the neutral couldn’t ask for a better game as Arsenal entertain Liverpool in what could be a crucial moment in the race for Champions League qualification.
Both giants of English football are capable of scintillating football but are equally vulnerable to defensive lapses too. That has resulted in some fantastic encounters in recent times. Let’s hope this will be another to get the festivities off to a flyer.
Jack Back To His Best For Arsenal?
A difficult December has seen Arsenal lose their 100% home record and drop points to poor teams on the road. Yet, Arsene Wenger’s men will be in top four on Christmas Day should they beat Liverpool at the Emirates. That should give them a huge incentive while they also have plenty of reason to be optimistic, not least due to the improved form of Jack Wilshere.
The England man is now approaching his best once more thanks to a run of games in the side, and he has linked up well with Mesut Ozil in particularly. With Aaron Ramsey sidelined, this resurrection of form and fitness couldn’t have come at a better time. A big performance against another top side here would go a long way to suggesting he can play a huge role for club and country once more.
Arsenal will also be pleased to see Shkodran Mustafi back to fitness, although the absence of Olivier Giroud is a cause for concern. Perhaps more alarming for Wenger, though, is the fact that Alexis Sanchez continues to cast an uninterested and frustrated figure. A game of this magnitude may spark a reaction, but the Gunners may need to look elsewhere for inspiration.
Aleandre Lacazette could be the answer to the prayers, but they’ll need to be careful over Liverpool’s frontline.
Klopp Looking To Outgun Arsenal
While Jurgen Klopp will be pleased with his side’s recent defensive improvements, which ironically occurred following the dismal display at Spurs, there’s no doubt that the Merseysiders will be looking to their attacking stars for inspiration on Friday night. At times, the Reds have been simply frightening in the attacking third.
Mo Salah has rightly picked up the plaudits but Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have all performed brilliantly this season too. With ex-Gunner Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain now putting in some positive performances too, the Reds are certainly looking comfortable with the ball.
Joel Matip and Alberto Moreno are out injured, but Liverpool are looking Ok at the back right now. Joe Gomez and Andrew Robertson are doing well while the experienced central pairing should be well protected by the returning Emre Can.
Liverpool are easily one of the most exciting sides in the league. If they perform to their best, we could see a masterclass but there’s always a chance that they’ll self-implode too. Whatever happens in London, it should be a phenomenal way to get the weekend’s action started in style.
Arsenal v Liverpool Betting
With home advantage on their side, Arsenal have been established as the slight favourites at 7/5 with Coral while the bookmaker has priced Liverpool at 17/10. The draw can be backed at 13/5.
Everything about this game points to the possibility of goals. Whether it’s a one-sided affair like it was at Anfield, or an end-to-end classic like last year’s corresponding fixture, goals should be on the festive menu.
We’re backing at least four of them on Friday.
Everyone will look to Salah as the main man for goals, and there’s no doubt that the signing of the season will be fancied. Having said that, Liverpool boast several players capable of dominating this battle. Coutinho is the man that stands out as being able to do it in the big games, and we’re backing the brilliant Brazilian to have another cracker.
Whether he scores or assists, there’s a good chance that he’ll have a big say. At 5/1, back him to be named Man of the Match.