Liverpool will end the year top of the pile, but by how far? George Pitts previews their final game of 2018.
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Liverpool v Arsenal (1730 GMT, BT Sport 1)
The last time Liverpool beat Newcastle 4-0 during the festive period, they played Arsenal less than a month later, winning 2-0, before winning the first division title that season (1987/88). So a colleague, and Reds fan, at Sporting Life HQ informs me.
That omen, along with title number 19 in 2019?
It is funny how these things line up in football and the red half of Merseyside will start to believe even more with a win against top-four contenders Arsenal on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp's side are six points clear of second-placed Tottenham and the next week could see them lose that lead or start the year in style. After a tough clash with the Gunners, the Reds are away at Manchester City on Thursday, a huge match even at this stage of the season.
Liverpool are now odds-on favourites with Sky Bet to win the Premier League - a title Arsenal have not won since 2004.
The good times could be on their way back for the Gunners though, with positive signs of better things to come under Unai Emery. The Spaniard has a long way to go, but he has the north Londoners playing some good football and they are in the hunt for a top four finish.
These sides drew 1-1 in the reverse fixture at the Emirates in November, while both matches last term produced 10 goals in total, and it promises to be an exciting Saturday evening encounter.
Score prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Arsenal (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
With absolutely no influence from the aforementioned colleague, the Reds can make another title statement with a clean sheet here. Jurgen Klopp has sacrificed a little style for substance this year, with his side taking less risks after going ahead and their defensive record shows that - impressively conceding just seven goals all season. A loss could be possible at City next week, but a win here will give them added confidence and breathing room going to the Etihad.
Mohamed Salah 2+ & Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 1+ shots on target at 13/8 Considering their roles within their respective teams, and their hunger in front of goal, the odds available on this looks too good to pass up. Salah appears to have found his shooting boots again of late and has attempted 12 shots in his last four games. He certainly knows where the goal is, so we are hoping he tests Bernd Leno and gets a couple on target here. Gabonese forward Aubameyang, meanwhile, has had 14 shots in his last four appearances, scoring three, and is just ahead of Salah in the Golden Boot race so he cannot take his foot off the gas.
Jordan Henderson to have 1+ shots at 11/10
Liverpool to win to nil was tempting at 2/1, but the preference to avoid the result for such a big clash leads us to the shots market. The price available on Henderson to have just one shot looks worth a small play. The Reds captain should be part of a three-man midfield and will look to support the attacking trio with late runs. He has had at least one shot in four of his last six games and this market does not require it to be on target, so a speculative effort would be a success here. It is also worth considering Aaron Ramsey to have two or more shots at above evens, with his role likely to be advanced in Mesut Ozil's possible absence, but the Reds captain gets our backing.
- This will be the 227th meeting between these two teams in all competitions, with Liverpool winning 86 times to Arsenal’s 79 (61 draws).
- Arsenal are without a win in their last five trips to Anfield to face Liverpool in the Premier League (D2 L3), conceding two or more goals in each match (17 in total).
- Liverpool have gone seven games unbeaten against Arsenal in all competitions (W3 D4) – they last embarked upon a longer such run in February 2000 (14 games).
- There have been 149 goals in Premier League matches between Liverpool and Arsenal – only four fixtures have reached 150+ goals in the competition (Arsenal/Everton, Liverpool/Spurs, Chelsea/Spurs and Arsenal/Spurs).
- Arsenal have scored more goals from outside the box than any other Premier League side this season (9), while Liverpool are the only team yet to concede such a goal in 2018-19.
- Arsenal have won just one of their last 12 Premier League away games against sides starting the day top of the table (2-1 vs Chelsea in November 2008), losing the last six in a row by an aggregate score of 2-17.
- Liverpool have conceded just seven goals in their 19 Premier League games this season, and a clean sheet here will see a record for fewest goals conceded after 20 English top-flight games.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 30 Premier League home games, their longest such run since a run of 31 between December 2007 and August 2009.
- Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino has been directly involved in eight goals in his last six Premier League games against Arsenal (5 goals, 3 assists). Only Robbie Fowler (9) has netted more Premier League goals against Arsenal for Liverpool than Firmino (5).
- Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the top scorer in the Premier League this season with 13 goals, with the Gabonese international scoring six in his last eight away from home.
- Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have combined for six Premier League goals since the former's debut in the competition – no other duo have combined for more in that time.
Odds correct at 1545 GMT on 24/12/18