Liverpool v Arsenal
|Arguably the biggest game this weekend may be taking place at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Spurs will take on Manchester City and all eyes will be on the Champions League qualifiers and the Champions League hopefuls. The signing of Mario Balotelli will give City a boost (as if they needed another one, “great another £20m plus player!”) although he is unlikely to play.|
I chose Liverpool v Arsenal this week as it involves two Champions League regulars whose place in the top four is probably most at threat from the two teams in the earlier game. As much as the first games are often characterised by caution as teams try to find their feet in the new season, these two have a lot to gain from an early win.
Liverpool have only won their opening game twice in the last 7 seasons, although this is the first time since 2003 they have played their first game at home. Fernando Torres will not start the game but could make the bench while Christian Poulsen, Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole could make their Premier League debuts for Liverpool. It will be interesting to see if Javier Mascherano plays any part in this game. He says he wants to play in a different country but no bids have been forthcoming, while Roy Hodgson says he considers him a Liverpool player. Liverpool are without doubt a better side with Mascherano but only if he wants to be there. Liverpool have only won 3 of their last 18 games against Arsenal but this could be a good time to play them. For all of last seasons doom and gloom and the ongoing uncertainty over the sale of the club, Hodgson has reintroduced some positivity into playing side at least. Arsenal are struggling with injuries and have not reinforced the first team significantly.
|Arsenal have been scoring freely in their pre-season games and they kicked off last season with a 1-6 away victory over Liverpool’s neighbours Everton. They have won 8 of their last 9 opening fixtures. They are not yet at full strength and will be missing Ramsey, Song, Bendtner and Djourou and Fabregas, Van Persie and Diaby are doubtful. One time Liverpool target Marouane Chamakh will probably be given his competitive debut. Arsene Wenger may be about to sign a new contract but he has not yet got a new goalkeeper to sign one. Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer is rumoured to be the first choice but no deal has been completed as yet. Arsenal’s key man against Liverpool has been Andrey Arshavin, he has scored 5 goals in two visits to Anfield. Liverpool will look to exploit Arsenal’s backline that will probably include new signing Laurent Koscielny.|
Liverpool are 6/4 for the win, and Arsenal are 2/1. The draw is 12/5.