The new Premier League season officially gets underway this weekend and opening fixtures don't get much bigger than Arsenal vs. Liverpool on 14th August. Aside from being powerhouses of the English game, both teams will enter the match on a high after impressive pre-season performances.
Although Liverpool slipped against a gritty Roma side, a 4-0 drubbing of Barcelona was enough to get the Anfield faithful dreaming of more this season. Despite patches of excellence last season, Liverpool finished a disappointing eight, but with Jurgen Klopp beginning to find his groove, the reds are certainly capable of better this campaign.
As for Arsenal, goals don't appear to be an issue for Arsene Wenger's side at the moment. An impressive 17 goals in just five warm-up games helped the Gunners to notable victories over the likes of MLS All Stars and Manchester City. However, while the team might be firing on all cylinders going forward, defensive issues could play a factor in what will prove to be a tough opening game on Sunday.
However, just as Wenger won't have any fully fit defenders to call upon for the start of the new campaign, Klopp will also have his injury worries at the back.
For Arsenal, Gabriel is sidelined for six weeks while Per Mertesacker is likely to be out of action until 2017. With resources running low, Wenger will likely take a gamble on Laurent Koscielny who only returned to training in the last couple of weeks.
For Liverpool, Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez will be missing from the backline on Sunday, while new goalkeeper Loris Karius will have to watch from the stands with a broken hand. On a more positive note, Joel Matip is back from his hip injury and could slot nicely into the centre-back role if required.
Away from the ifs, whys and maybes of the game itself, a tense opening gaming could certainly see some risky tackles flying in. Although neither side have particularly poor disciplinary records, Arsenal's Xhaka will come into the game with something of a reputation.
Despite having one of the best passing ratios in the Bundesliga last season (average of 88 in 90 minutes), Xhaka also notched up 30 cards include 25 yellow and five red. Whether it's a lack of discipline or a desire to win the ball, Xhaka is no stranger to getting booked which could make NetBet's 23/20 odds on Arsenal earning the first booking a sound bet.
In fact, if you wanted to take this a step further and combine cards and goals, William Hill's over 2.5 goals and four cards looks to offer some value at 9/2.
However, if cards aren't your concern, then 11/1 on an Arsenal comeback with Coral could be the best bet of the match. Having already reversed a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 against Manchester City in preseason, the Gunners have proved they're capable of winning from behind.
Although comparing preseason and the Premier League is like comparing night and day, 11/1 appears to be too good of a price to pass up on. As opening fixtures go, Arsenal vs. Liverpool is a treat for any football fan and with thousands of bets available at our partner sites, this is one game you won't want to miss.
To find the latest odds and Premier League betting offers at NetBet or any of our other recommended bookies, simply follow the secure links on our site today!
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