PREMIER LEAGUE expert Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) previews Saturday's mouthwatering match-up between Arsenal and Liverpool at The Emirates.
Arsenal v Liverpool | Saturday 3rd November 2018, 17:30 | BT Sport
Towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign, Arsenal really struggled against their peers (other members of the Big Six). Indeed, in the Frenchman’s last six seasons at the club, they won just 12 of 60 Premier League games against such opposition.
Despite winning seven of his last eight league games, new boss Unai Emery has yet to beat a Big Six opponent, losing his first two games – at home to Manchester City and away to Chelsea. This game therefore represents a real opportunity – for both the Spaniard and Arsenal – to get a statement victory against a side that their fans believe they should be neck-and-neck with in a title race.
Although Emery’s record since losing his opening two domestic games is impressive, I – like many – still have grave reservations about Arsenal. Defensively they still look poor and while their goal tally of 24 is an excellent achievement, they have been converting chances at an unsustainable rate.
For example, last week at Crystal Palace, the Gunners created very little yet thanks to a superb Granit Xhaka free-kick and an unpunished handball from Alexandre Lacazette setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a simple finish, they scored two goals.
Like many expected at the start of the season, Liverpool are hot on Manchester City’s coattails. However, Jurgen Klopp’s sides matches haven’t been as entertaining as last term, with the average goals per-game at just 2.4 compared with 3.21 last term.
This is Liverpool’s fourth trip to the capital this term and with confident wins at Palace and Tottenham and a decent performance when drawing with Chelsea, they will visit The Emirates with plenty of confidence.
The Reds were in the region of 13/10 when facing Tottenham and while they should have won a lot more comfortably than the scoreline suggested, I simply cannot justify backing them here when Evens is barely available. I believe they should be favourites but I don’t believe they are that much better than the side that came here just before Christmas last season and were slight underdogs.
I did consider Liverpool and Both Teams To Score but I can’t even get 5/2 on that so I will also swerve. I also can’t justify backing Arsenal but I do think the draw is value at 29/10 with Bet365.
Nine of Arsenal’s last 21 home games against Big Six members have finished with the points shared, while Jurgen Klopp has been something of a draw specialist against this group, drawing 15 of his 31 games overall (six of 15 away). It’s certainly not a comfortable bet, but all things considered, a stalemate is simply too big here.
Elsewhere, I like the even-money Betway are offering on the second-half to be the Highest Scoring Half. Six of Arsenal’s last seven league games have seen this bet emerge victorious and I believe that once the first goal goes in this game will ignite.
That was certainly the case at The Emirates last season during the 3-3 thriller and was also evident when Liverpool faced Spurs earlier in the season.