Top four place up for grabs as Liverpool visit Arsenal
Arsenal and Liverpool go head-to-head in the Premier League on Friday and both sides will hope to give their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League a huge shot in the arm.
Liverpool head into the clash at the Emirates Stadium fourth in the table, one point ahead of Arsenal with Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur close behind.
Neither side looks likely to realistically challenge the two Manchester clubs or Chelsea this season, meaning Friday’s game is crucial to their hopes of joining that trio in the top four.
According to these odds Arsenal are favourites to win the game at 29/20, with Liverpool priced at 9/5. The draw is available at 5/2.
Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over West Ham United on Tuesday took them through to the last four of the Carabao Cup, but it came at a cost as Olivier Giroud suffered a hamstring injury.
Manager Arsene Wenger confirmed the striker won’t return for at least three weeks, ruling him out of the busy Christmas and New Year period.
Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla are also currently on the Gunners’ long-term injured list, but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp also has problems of his own to contend with.
Alberto Moreno, Marko Grujic, Joel Matip, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Bogdan are all out, while Daniel Sturridge is also doubtful with a hamstring problem.
However, it’s debatable whether Sturridge would have figured at the Emirates after Klopp told the forward he is free to leave the club in January.
Wenger will undoubtedly use Arsenal’s 4-0 drubbing at Liverpool earlier in the season as motivation on Friday, but they will have to overcome a poor recent record against the Reds.
The Gunners have won just one of their last six meetings with Liverpool, but there’s plenty of reasons to think they can improve on that this weekend.
Arsenal have lost just one of their last 14 home matches and, aside from their victory over the Gunners during August, Liverpool haven’t beaten any of the top sides this season.
The last four meetings between these two teams have produced 21 goals, so the 7/2 on offer for an Arsenal win and over 3.5 goals in the match could be worth an interest.
Liverpool have won six and drawn three of their last nine league games, although only two of those have been against sides currently in the top ten.
Mohamed Salah has been Liverpool’s danger man this season scoring 20 goals in 26 games in all competitions, so odds of 29/20 to score at any time on Friday appear generous.
Both Wenger and Klopp will be eager to claim the three points ahead of what could be a productive period for their respective teams.
Arsenal face games against Crystal Palace (twice), West Bromwich Albion, Bournemouth and Swansea, and they will fancy their chances of recording five victories from that run of fixtures.
Their meeting with Chelsea on January 3 is certainly their toughest match over the next few weeks, but Arsenal should still be well-placed to challenge for the top four at the end of January.
Swansea City (twice) and Huddersfield Town look winnable games for Liverpool, but fixtures against Manchester City, Burnley and Leicester City will be stiff tests.
A victory for Arsenal on Friday would move them up to fourth in the table and they look capable of making home advantage pay.
Arsenal to beat Liverpool at odds of 29/20 looks a solid wager and Mesut Ozil to score at any time during the game at 5/2 may also be worth an interest.
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