Liverpool v Arsenal
Saturday 12:45, BT Sport 1.
Match Odds: Liverpool 2.166/5, Arsenal 3.711/4, The Draw 3.711/4.
The previous meeting between Arsenal and Liverpool, a 2-0 win for Arsenal at the Emirates back in November, was one of the season's best Premier League matches so far. Therefore, few will be complaining that these two meet twice in nine days - there's an FA Cup tie at Arsenal next weekend, but first, the league leaders travel to Anfield in the league.
Both sides' line-ups are predictable, partly because both have injury problems. Brendan Rodgers should name an unchanged line-up, with the only potential change that would have a significant impact upon his strategy involving Joe Allen, now fit to return. Steven Gerrard has been playing the holding role in recent weeks, behind Jordan Henderson and Coutinho in a 4-3-3, but isn't a natural in that position, and Allen could bring more tactical discipline and patience to the midfield, perhaps with Coutinho dropping out.
Arsene Wenger's side is likely to be similar to the XI that defeated Crystal Palace last weekend. Kieran Gibbs will hope to return at full-back, to take on fellow speedster Raheem Sterling, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be expected to continue in the central midfield role he played last weekend. More accustomed to playing on the wing, Oxlade-Chamberlain believes his long-term future is in the centre, but the qualities he showed against Palace were that of a more attacking player - his passing was poor, but his bursts into the box from deep were crucial.
Lukas Podolski could miss out following an underwhelming display against Palace, with Tomas Rosicky standing by - he brings tempo to the Arsenal side, both with and without the ball. However, Podolski scored the opener in this fixture last season, and Wenger might want his counter-attacking speed.
The key battle is Laurent Koscielny against Luis Suarez, the Premier League's top goalscorer. Suarez has started 11 matches alongside Daniel Sturridge this season, and Arsenal are the only side to prevent both from scoring - which underlines what a wonderful game Koscielny had in the previous meeting.
This will be a slightly different clash, however. At the Emirates, Rodgers used a 3-4-1-2 system which meant Suarez and Sturridge went head-to-head against Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, with Mikel Arteta playing an extremely deep covering role to provide help. Sturridge should start out on the left, meaning Mertesacker could be the free player.
Suarez's positioning will be interesting. Ideally he'll prefer to play towards the left, up against Mertesacker, but might find himself getting in Sturridge's way. I think Koscielny will be tracking Suarez intently again, and while the Frenchman could come out on top, I think Suarez will beat him at least once - and will back Kosicelny to be booked at 3.412/5.
Elsewhere, there should be interesting individual clashes between Gibbs and Sterling, and Bacary Sagna and Sturridge. But Liverpool's real threat could come from deeper, where Coutinho has been playing well in the centre of midfield, and Henderson has provided a great goal threat from central midfield over the past couple of months. Arteta alongside Oxlade-Chamberlain isn't Arsenal's most secure pairing, and Liverpool's midfielders might get goalscoring opportunities on the edge of the box.
That said, Mesut Ozil will fancy his chances of finding space on the break, and Santi Cazorla should drift inside from the flank to overload Liverpool between the lines. But will Arsenal have enough runners breaking in behind the defence, to provide the penetration? That could be the difference.
These sides are well-matched, and while Liverpool have a decent chance of victory at home, I struggle to understand why they're as short as 2.166/5 against the Premier League leaders - that looks an obvious lay.
Back Laurent Koscielny to be shown a card if you can get 3.412/5 or better
Lay Liverpool at 2.166/5