Premier League leaders Arsenal head to Anfield today where a stern test of their title aspirations awaits against a Liverpool outfit with pride to restore on what should be an enthralling clash on Merseyside.
With second-placed Man City watching developments closely, the Gunners will hope to overcome one of the biggest challenges left on their fixture programme, while Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will be determined to prove a few doubters wrong with a victory over the champions-elect.
Below, I’ve laid out my stats pack for today’s showpiece showdown which contains everything you need to conquer the bet builder markets later on. Take a glance at my Stats Pack Guide if you need any help decoding the data. Worth noting that Paddy Power are giving away a completely free bet builder on the game for new and existing customers.
With Stefan Bajcetic and Naby Keita confirmed absentees and Thiago not quite ready to make his comeback, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and James Milner could be deployed in midfield for Liverpool today if Jurgen Klopp decides to field three players in the centre.
Luis Diaz has been ruled out for another week, so expect Diogo Jota, Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez to vie for two positions in attack alongside Mohamed Salah. Virgil van Dijk missed the Reds’ 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Tuesday, though the 31-year-old is expected to return here.
Arsenal are virtually at full-strength, though William Saliba is absent at centre-half, meaning Rob Holding should be drafted in to partner Gabriel Magalhaes at the heart of the Gunners’ defence.
The rest of the team more or less picks itself with Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka certain to be fielded just behind Martin Odegaard in midfield. Gabriel Jesus will spearhead the attack, though Mikel Arteta does have a slight decision to make on the flank where Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Martinelli are both pushing to start.
Liverpool have been a match for most in terms of their output in the final third this season and only Arsenal and Man City have bested them for shots per 90, while the Reds also rank third for attempts lodged (p/90). However, problems at the back have persisted throughout the campaign, which is why Jurgen Klopp’s side are languishing down in eighth spot in the table.
Liverpool have the division’s fifth-best defensive record, though that stat doesn’t tell the full story and 11 teams have been posting stronger xG against figures per 90, highlighting just how crucial a figure keeper Alisson has been. On a more positive note, Liverpool have been winning plenty of corners this season and they are a generously-priced option at 3/4 to win over 4.5 of them today.
Arsenal’s underlying stats for the 2022/23 campaign are eye-catching in a number of directions, though the current league leaders don’t actually top the pile for any single metric. The Gunners’ numbers in attack have a glossy look however, and they do rank second behind Man City for shots registered per 90.
At the back, only Newcastle and Man City have been conceding less often, while Arsenal also sit third in the division for xG against per 90 minutes. Mikel Arteta’s troops have won seven games on the spin since losing to City in February, though they haven’t earned a victory at Anfield in the Premier League since 2012.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Liverpool attacking trio Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo have been rattling off good numbers in the shooting department for Liverpool this season, though Uruguayan Nunez carried the most threat for the Reds when they lost 3-2 to Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium in October.
Nunez registered three shots and two efforts on target in London that day and if he starts the rematch, the 23-year-old could be a nice docket padder at 3/10 in the 3+ shots stakes. The consistently reliable Mohamed Salah looks like the best option in the accuracy arena however, where the 30-year-old can be backed at 4/11 to lodge 1+ shots on target.
Arsenal have been attacking with real ferocity this season and Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli have all been packing a considerable punch at different junctures in the season.
However, the fresh and firing Gabriel Jesus has brought fresh sparkle to the Gunners’ frontline and the Brazilian hit one shot on target and three efforts overall on his first league start since November against Leeds last weekend. I like the look of Jesus at 13/10 to test his compatriot Alisson with at least two shots at Anfield this afternoon.
Player Goals and Assists
Mohamed Salah has been retaining his world-class levels even if most of his teammates haven’t this season and the Egyptian’s haul of 12 goals and seven assists in 27 league starts is unmatched elsewhere at the club.
Salah is of interest at even money to either score or assist today, though Diogo Jota also has an incredible record against Arsenal and should also be considered. The diminutive Portuguese forward has notched a huge seven times against the Gunners since 2020 and Jota is a tempting 21/20 to net against the Londoners again this afternoon.
Five separate Arsenal players (Martinelli, Saka, Odegaard, Jesus and Xhaka) are already into double figures for goal contributions this season, though wingers Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli catch the eye at 11/10 to either score or create a goal at Anfield.
21-year-old wonderkid Saka scored twice when Arsenal beat Liverpool 3-2 in October, though he did face back-up Reds left back Konstantinos Tsimikas that day. Still, there is value in backing Saka to do some damage today. On the opposite flank, Gabriel Martinelli, who lodged a goal and an assist against Liverpool in the reverse fixture is 13/10 in the same market. The Brazilian has already been too skilful for Trent Alexander-Arnold once this term.
Arsenal have averaged more possession per game than Liverpool this season, though the roles were reversed when the teams met in London in October when the Reds controlled 56% of the ball to the Gunners’ 45%.
With the Anfield crowd pushing them on, Liverpool could be the dominant side in terms of possession again today and the returning Virgil van Dijk could be an option to consider at 4/9 to beat a target of 70+ passes. Andrew Robertson meanwhile, looks good to top 50 passes having done so in seven of his last eight starts in the league. The Scot represents real value at 8/15 there.
With William Saliba out injured, distribution duties from the back should fall to Gabriel Magalhaes and Oleksandr Zinchenko today, though you have to move up to the 70+ passes range to find value for either (Magalhaes 2/5, Zinchenko 8/13).
Martin Odegaard might be an easier selection to squeeze something out of. The Norwegian is priced at 4/9 to play 50+ passes, a challenge he has beaten in five of his last seven starts in the Premier League for the Gunners.
Liverpool Cards and Fouls
Liverpool seem to have mastered the art of fouling without earning bookings from match officials – just ask Fabinho – and it makes sense to stick to the fouls markets today where the Reds are concerned.
The fiery Fabinho piques my interest at 4/5 to commit 2+ fouls today, something he has done in four of his last six starts in the league, while fullbacks Trent Alexander Arnold and Andrew Robertson are favoured at 1/4 and 8/15 to sin at least once while marking some tricky wingers later on.
The quicksilver Gabriel Martinelli is a fizzy enough customer to put Alexander-Arnold through the wringer this afternoon, while Bukayo Saka on the opposite side has been drawing more and more fouls as the season has progressed. Andrew Robertson could be the latest fullback to kick the youngster today.
Gabriel Jesus meanwhile, is statistically the most-fouled Arsenal player this season in terms of average fouls per game, and the dynamic frontman’s engagements with fellow Brazilian Fabinho should be worth watching when the Gunners star hunts for the ball in deeper positions.
Match-Ups to watch
Fabinho vs Gabriel Jesus
Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Gabriel Martinelli
Andrew Robertson vs Bukayo Saka
Arsenal Cards and Fouls
Arsenal’s more advanced players tend to rack up plenty of fouls due to Mikel Arteta’s demands for aggressive high-pressing and Martinelli, Saka, Jesus and Odegaard have all accumulated at least three cards each in the Premier League this term.
The Gunners’ blueprint out of possession opens up several angles in the markets today, with Saka (3/10) and Odegaard (1/3) useful-looking options to commit 1+ fouls at Anfield, while Gabriel Jesus is an alluring prospect to clock at least two at 4/6.
With Arsenal’s most reliable foul merchants located in their attacking third, it makes sense to look at possible head-to-heads in Liverpool’s defensive zone for players likely to draw fouls this afternoon.
Andrew Robertson will undoubtedly feel the squeeze from the hard-working Bukayo Saka, while the bristly Gabriel Jesus will have his eye on key Liverpool passer Virgil van Dijk more centrally. Elsewhere, Martin Odegaard will be keen to step on Jordan Henderson’s toes given the ease at which the Liverpool midfielder’s feathers can be ruffled.
Match-Ups to watch
Bukayo Saka vs Andrew Robertson
Martin Odegaard vs Jordan Henderson
Gabriel Jesus vs Virgil van Dijk
My Bet Builder Picks of the Pack
Given Paddy Power are gifting us all a free bet builder, I’ve delved into the data and picked out my own bet builder. It’s a bold one granted, but it’s a free bet so worth a shot at a big jackpot.
Liverpool vs Arsenal
Salah’s record against Arsenal is incredible. He’s scored 8 and assisted 4 in 12 Premier League meetings. Keeping at that rate, a goal contribution every game is exactly what we need.
Given he was dropped against Chelsea despite scoring in the previous game against City, he’ll be keen to show Klopp that was a wrong decision.
Liverpool’s season may be disappointing, but Salah’s conversion has gone slightly under the radar.
19 goal contributions (12 goals, 7 assists) in 28 appearances is no easy feat, and add to that 10 contributions (8 goals, 2 assists) in 8 Champions League outings and he’s actually still in great form.
17 of his 29 goal contributions have come at Anfield too.
Arsenal have been conceding a lot recently, and have let at least one goal in in 5 of their last 6 games in all competitions – including 3 against Sporting (two legs), 2 against Bournemouth, and 1 against each of Palace and Leeds.
Salah will be the perfect man to exploit the space in behind Oleksandr Zinchenko as he forays forward into the midfield.
Liverpool’s record against the Gunners is pretty strong too, scoring twice in each of their last 3 games against them.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive frailties have been given a starring light this season.
He’s received 3 cards this season and commits 0.76 fouls p/90.
But against Arsenal he has a whole host of new and difficult problems to deal with.
Gabriel Martinelli can beat him for pace, and is not scared to run at him. The Brazilian attempts 4.08 take-ons p/90 and as a result draws 1.23 fouls.
Then there’s the positions that Gabriel Jesus adopts, tending to drift left while Martin Odegaard drifts in the opposite direction.
Jesus is one of the best dribblers in the league and attempts a hefty 5.41 dribbles p/90. He’s a menace to deal with as a defender and hence draws an average of 2.74 fouls p/90.
I imagine Trent to still adopt attacking positions down the right, and with the pace of Arsenal on the counter can see him drawing down one of the pacey Brazilians – prime example of card-bearing challenges.
Goals are almost a given in this fixture. Arsenal edged a 3-2 win over Liverpool at the Emirates in the reverse fixture.
But interestingly, Liverpool’s goal scoring record is exceptional in this tie and have scored twice in each of their last 3 meetings with Arsenal.
Arsenal won’t be scared to concede though, as they have done in 5 of their last 6 games in all competitions.
They have confidence that they can convert enough chances to outmuscle their opposition – they’ve scored an average of 2.41 goals per game.
Liverpool games average 2.89 goals this season, while Arsenal games average a hefty 3.34.
Interestingly, games at Anfield are much more prolific in terms of goals -seeing an average of 3.31 goals per game. Liverpool score goals in front of their home crowd, scoring 34 goals at home compared to just 14 on their travels this campaign.
The Gunners still score 2.00 goals a game away from home.
What a sensation Bukayo Saka has been this season. The starboy has netted 12 times and assisted 10 times this campaign in the Premier League alone.
He bagged two goals against Liverpool earlier in the season, and has proven himself as a big game player.
He’s managed 5 goals and 2 assists against the so called big 6, but it’s his willingness to take on shots that I like the look of.
He attempts 2.48 shots p/90 and when he’s on it can convert those into accurate attempts.
He managed 3 shots on target against Liverpool last time they met, 2 from open play and one from the spot.