Arsenal look to make amends for last weekend’s embarrassing defeat when Liverpool come to the Emirates for this FA Cup fifth round clash. Jaymes Monte has the team news and odds.
Arsenal were understandably cagey in their midweek goalless draw with Manchester United, and it is perhaps a sign of how far they have come this season – and conversely how far United have fallen – that a point was seen as a slightly disappointing return.
The scars of last weekend’s 5-1 humiliation will still be raw and we should expect another performance that sees defensive duties take priority for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger’s side have now won just one of their last four games.
Liverpool, meanwhile, followed up the Arsenal rout with a slightly more circumspect 3-2 win over Fulham in midweek. The Reds were 1-0 and 2-1 down before taking all three points with a 90th minute Steven Gerrard penalty.
Although the performance wasn’t anything to get excited about, winning games when you’re not playing well is and the victory proved Liverpool to be genuine top-four material and, whisper it quietly on Merseyside, potential title challengers.
Daniel Sturridge maintained his incredible record of scoring in every game since his return from injury with his 20th of the season at Craven Cottage on Wednesday. He now has nine in his last eight games in all competitions. Meanwhile, Luis Suarez is enduring a relatively lean patch having scored only once in his last six.
Santi Cazorla has been ruled out for the hosts due to illness, but Mathieu Flamini does return from suspension and will be a timely boost to provide some much needed protection to Arsenal’s backline. Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen are among those who remain unavailable due to injury.
Glen Johnson is nearing a return to action and could come into the equation this Sunday, while Daniel Agger was a late substitute against Fulham and may be in line for a return to the starting XI. Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, Lucas and Sebastian Coates are all longer-term absentees.
Arsenal were taken apart inside the opening 20 minutes last weekend and it looked like men against boys right across the pitch. The Gunners did get their act together slightly as the game went on, but that was probably more due to a decrease in intensity from Liverpool who had clearly already wrapped up the three points.
A repeat of last weekend’s demolition job is almost completely out of the equation in my mind, and we shouldn’t get too hung up on it when analysing the betting for this game. The Gunners were caught completely off guard and Liverpool were right on top of their game. Fair play. But I don’t think that Arsenal should now by made outsiders in the betting on their home turf. Backing the hosts at odds of 17/10 looks a cracking bet and can help us atone for last week’s advised punt on Wenger’s side.
I expect Arsenal to revert to the more defensive approach that has been at the route of their success so far this season, as they did against Manchester United in midweek. Therefore I’d also advise backing Under 2.5 goals at odds of 6/5.