With both Arsenal and Liverpool in the running for the Premier League this match is one that can be looked at as more of a grudge match, especially considering Liverpool’s recent 5-1 home win in the league.
While Wenger has said that his team will respond to their recent 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool, their midweek 0-0 draw at home to Manchester United, was not much of a response. This is their chance to prove the pundits wrong and show they are mentally strong enough to compete against their rivals.
Their previous FA Cup matches in the Third and Fourth Round were quite convincing. Both were home wins with a 2-0 over rivals Tottenham Hotspur and 4-0 over Coventry City. While the FA Cup probably is not a priority for the Gunners, they will be looking to win this match simply as revenge for their previous meeting with Liverpool.
This season Arsenal has just three losses at home coming with one in the Premier League, one in the Champions League and one in the Capital One Cup. They do have several key players still out injured including Thomas Vermaelen, Diaby, Kim Kallstrom, Theo Walcott, and Aaron Ramsey.
While there was a midweek scare for Liverpool in their away match to Fulham, they were able to pull off a 3-2 comeback win to give them additional momentum going into the weekend. Another win against Arsenal would really give them a confidence boost going into the remainder of the season.
Liverpool’s speed of attack means that they will be threat early, again, and will be looking to press Arsenal hard while pushing them deep into their own territory as well. While their defensive, holding midfielder, Lucas Leiva, is still injured, the current midfield trio of Gerrard, Henderson, and Coutinho has been working out very well for the Reds.
In addition to Lucas, Liverpool are still without Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, and the season long injury to Sebastian Coates.
My pick is an Arsenal win. With the return of Mathieu Flamini to the center of the pitch it should open up options further up field for the likes of Cazorla. If Arsenal can look to hold off Liverpool early, they stand an excellent chance of grabbing a late winner. Liverpool often likes to press hard and run at the opposing defense, especially early, which tends to leave them more tired in the second half.
Betting Odds (Bovada):
Arsenal win: 29/20; Draw: 5/2; Liverpool win: 33/20
Recent Form: Arsenal (W, W, D, W, L, D) Liverpool (D, W, W, D, W, W)
Prediction: Arsenal 1 – 0 Liverpool
FOR U.S. BASED BETTORS VIA BOVADA:
ALL OTHERS VIA BWIN (U.S. CUSTOMERS ALLOWED AS WELL):