Two consecutive defeats for Man City – at the hands of Crystal Palace and Leicester respectively – have given the Reds some clear water at the top of the Premier League, and now it’s Tottenham, not City, who have edged themselves ahead into second place. Liverpool’s lead at the top is now six points.
All of which has cranked up the pressure ahead of Saturday’s visit by Arsenal, who themselves have slipped off the pace with a run of one win in three. As things stand, they find themselves 13 points adrift of the league leaders.
Recent history suggests this should be an entertaining one, with their last six meetings producing no less than 29 goals between them – a staggering average of nearly five goals per game – although in the reverse fixture, in early November, it was a tight 1-1. Back then, still in the early stages of Unai Emery’s tenure, Alexandre Lacazette’s fine equaliser secured the Gunner their point.
Since then, the Reds have gone from strength to strength and to have reached the Premier League’s halfway stage and remain unbeaten is some achievement. The Reds’ fans are starting to believe and with ever-more reason.
TOP TIP! – Liverpool to win 3-1 @ +1100 / Shaqiri as anytime goalscorer @ +180
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Significantly, the Gunners haven’t won in any of their last five league trips to Anfield – conceding 17 goals in the process – and a win for Liverpool at the weekend will make it eight games unbeaten against Arsenal in all competitions for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
What makes this season’s task doubly difficult for Arsenal is that Liverpool’s back-four has been nothing short of sensational and has conceded just seven goals in their 19 games – by far the lowest in all four divisions – and is dominated by the imperious figure of Virgil van Dijk.
And going forward, last season’s attacking triumvirate of Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane has been boosted by the arrival of Xherdan Shaqiri, giving them far more options and variations.
All of which, on paper at least, makes it appear a relatively straightforward task for Klopp’s team, but still the Liverpool manager knows a tough afternoon awaits, even though the Gunners long unbeaten run was ended last week at Southampton.
The aforementioned Liverpool defence will need to guard against complacency, particularly with the Premier League’s top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, looking to add to his tally – sometimes operating in tandem with Lacazette. They can hurt teams, even when the side is below par.
On the downside, Arsenal have been hit by a series of defensive injuries and were recently forced to deploy Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner as makeshift centre backs. Against Liverpool’s attack that is far from ideal and Emery will be hoping to get some bodies back for the weekend.
All of which makes it very tough to make a case for an away win although at an incredible 22/1 for a 1-0 Arsenal win, we’d not discourage anyone to have a small wager. But, we’re far more inclined to head for a Liverpool win with Arsenal getting themselves a goal, so we’d recommend giving some thought to the 3-1 at +1100 with Bet365. Consider also Shaqiri as anytime goalscorer at +180 with 188bet.
TOP TIP! – West Ham to win 2-1 @ +900 / Anderson first goalscorer @ +750
Burnley will be hoping to sign off 2018 with a win, especially after getting thumped 5-1 at home to Everton on Boxing Day. That made it three defeats on the bounce for the Clarets, who look almost certain to begin 2019 in the drop zone.
Turf Moor was an unhappy place on Wednesday as the Toffees inflicted on them their heaviest defeat of the season, and Sean Dyche’s men have now conceded eight goals in their last two games after shipping three at the Emirates at the weekend.
Now, with the likes of the Hammers’ Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson and Javier Hernandez in good form, things are not about to get any easier for Burnley.
Interestingly, the Clarets claimed four points from two matches with West Ham last season, with the Turf Moor match being drawn 1-1, before they walloped the Hammers 3-0 at the London Stadium. The Londoners though will look to the reverse fixture in November, which they comfortably won 4-2, as a source of comfort.
In previous encounters between these two sides at Turf Moor, Burnley have won 14, drawn 11 and lost just six times, and so will be keen to continue this impressive trend.
For the Hammers it’s been a stop-start type of season, although a recent good run of form was brought to an abrupt halt last weekend, with Watford winning 2-0 at the London Stadium. Prior to that they had won four games on the bounce, and on Thursday night they returned to winning ways with a classy 2-1 win at Southampton. They do have injury and illness concerns at present though, with head coach Manuel Pellegrini still awaiting the return of leading scorer Marko Arnautovic, but Andy Carroll is available again and came on as a sub in midweek.
We envisage another difficult afternoon for the Clarets of Lancashire and, particularly after watching West Ham cruise past Southampton, can see the EastEnders edging this one. Dyche’s Burnley will battle and play with fire in the belly, but we can see West Ham securing a second successive 2-1 +900 with Bet365, with Felipe Anderson grabbing the opening goal +750 with 188bet.
TOP TIP! – City to win 3-0 @ +790 / Fernandinho to pick up a card @ +230
Both sides come into this one off the back of defeats, in City’s case two on the bounce, but for that reason alone we simply cannot see the Saints getting anything from this game.
Southampton have undoubtedly improved since Ralph Hasenhuttl replaced Mark Hughes in the manager’s hotseat – two wins in their last three games are testament to this – but they came up short against West Ham and will struggle to see them making too much headway against Pep Guardiola’s men.
This City side are not used to losing and for it to happen in consecutive games will have hurt. They will be smarting, and the thought of a squad assembled at such cost and containing such quality to lose three in a row seems unlikely.
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