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Tougher Times Ahead for Red Rivals

Arsenal and Liverpool fans could hardly have hoped for better starts to the campaign. The Gunners sit top of the Premiership and are 9/2 shots with Coral to be in pole position when it really matters at the end of the season. Liverpool (8/1) are just two points behind in third and there’s a growing belief on Merseyside that this could be their time again.

But it’s early days. It’s going to get tougher for both red camps, starting this Saturday evening when they square up at the Emirates.

Arsenal and Liverpool have had quite spookily similar starts to the season. In nine games apiece they have played the same opposition six times and their sole defeats have both been at home. And more tellingly, they have faced ‘Big Six’ rivals only once apiece. Certainly, they have had gentler introductions to the season than, say, Manchester United.

So do either side have what it takes to still be up there fighting after going toe to toe with all the heavyweights as the season progresses? We should know more after this weekend’s big clash.

Another thing that Arsenal and Liverpool have in common is a superb strike capability. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the new SAS of the Premier League, have scored 14 goals between them in those nine Liverpool games and the Uruguayan missed the first five of them.

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey (five goals apiece) have also proved a deadly duo and they have Mesut Ozil and the rest of their formidable midfield to back them up.

Liverpool are in a better place at the moment, having hammered West Brom last weekend, while Arsenal have had their confidence dented by recent home losses to Borussia Dortmund (Champions League) and Chelsea (Capital One Cup).

But Arsene Wenger’s men are never more dangerous than when fans and pundits are starting to doubt them and it would be no surprise to see them bounce back.

This is a game that could easily go either way (Coral go 6/5 Arsenal, 23/10 Liverpool and 9/4 the draw) and with so many quality strikers on show there might well be a few goals in it. Suarez and Giroud are 6/4 to get on the scoresheet again, while Sturridge is 7/4 and Ramsey 2/1.

Coral go 17/2 Arsenal winning 2-1 and Liverpool 10/1 edging it by the same score. But perhaps we are in for a repeat of the exciting 2-2 draw we saw in the corresponding fixture last season – a tempting 11/1.