Liverpool lock horns with Hull as Sunderland host Arsenal
Liverpool and Arsenal are both in action again, and star in the Premier League’s 3pm Saturday kick-offs, following their midweek European exertions in the Champions League.
Brendan Rodgers’ Reds host tenacious Hull City and the Gunners travel to the northeast to face Sunderland.
Whilst Liverpool and Arsenal had differing success in continental competition, with the Reds defeated by Real Madrid and the Gunners snatching a last gasp win against Anderlecht, they are both aiming to climb up the Premier League ladder after lacklustre starts to the season.
Liverpool v Hull
Rodgers’ Reds (odds-on favourites at 4/9 to win) welcome Steve Bruce’s side to Anfield and are in need of a boost after their drubbing at the hands of Real, but will be buoyed by the fact they have never yet lost to Hull on home turf in all competitions.
Liverpool defeated the Tigers 2-0 last time these two teams met in Merseyside, but Bruce’s Boys will have the wind in their sails after holding Arsenal to a draw last time out.
The Tigers did manage a historic first ever win against the Reds last term, and will be keen to build on that success by stealing their first scalp away at Anfield, which they are 13/2 to do.
With Daniel Sturridge still sidelined, and Mario Balotelli misfiring, Rodgers’ biggest selection headache will be up front. Raheem Sterling (5/1 to fire home first), Liverpool’s top scorer this term, could play once again as a false nine, but overlooked attackers Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert (9/2 to hit home last) will both be hoping for a rare start.
Hull, always a threat from set pieces, will be targeting the Reds’ shaky defence. Rogers will be hoping for an improved performance from stopper Simon Mignolet and his rearguard, who were reckless against Real. Centre backs Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren in particular will be under the microscope.
The visitors have their own problems, however, with key players such as defender Michael Dawson and stopper Steve Harper both doubts, but club record signing Abel Hernandez is available at 11/4 to net anytime after scoring three times in five appearances.
Sunderland v Arsenal
Arsene Wenger’s men (odds-on favourites at 8/11 to take all three points) should be confident as they travel to the northeast, having done the double over the Black Cats last season. Arsenal put seven past them over those two encounters and Gus Poyet’s boys still possess a porous defence, having conceded eight to Southampton in their previous outing.
Sunderland have reacted quickly to their thrashing, however, snapping up free signing Anthony Reveillere, in an attempt to shore up their backline. The former France international could be set to feature against the Gunners, increasing the Black Cats (4/1 to win, or 5/2 to split the spoils) chances of snatching a shock result.
Arsenal have been lucky in their last two outings in all competitions, scraping a last-gasp draw against Hull and a late win in Brussels. Squeezing out results is often described as the form of champions, but Wenger will be aware his side need to step up if they are to lift silverware this season.
Aaron Ramsey looked rusty against Anderlecht, having just returned from injury, but netted two against Sunderland last term, and is available at 7/1 to punish Poyet’s side by scoring first.
Alexis Sanchez, who starred once again midweek, and Danny Welbeck saved Wenger’s blushes against Hull and are both 6/5 to hit home anytime again respectively. However, Jack Wilshere is suspended and, despite earlier reports, Theo Walcott is not expected to be ready to make his return at the Stadium of Light.
Gus Poyet’s boys, meanwhile, have much to do to restore their reputation, and could use their Southampton shame to inspire them to victory, with top scorer Steven Fletcher 7/1 to grab a goal first and stun the Gunners.