Arsenal v Southampton
Wednesday February 3, 6:45am
With a 2-1 home win over Burnley, Arsenal successfully negotiated their way to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup while Southampton are left with the Premier League as their sole focus after they were knocked out by Crystal Palace in the Third. The Saints will look to build on their strong recent record against the Gunners which has seen them win three of their last four meetings since the start of last season in all competitions, including that 4-0 thumping at St. Mary’s on Boxing Day.
Arsenal’s title challenge has stalled somewhat in recent weeks as they picked up a pair of draws at Anfield and the Britannia before suffering their customary defeat against Chelsea at home. The Blues are the first team since West Ham on the opening day of the season to win at the Emirates, where Arsenal have a W7-D2-L2 record this season. Their record against sides between 7th and 14th since the start of last season is an impressive W9-D1-L2. They’ve conceded only six goals in the 12 games, keeping six clean sheets and they led at half-time in seven of their nine wins.
After a slump towards the end of last year during which Southampton lost six of eight matches they’ve bounced back to form resoundingly by winning their last three without conceding. Those wins came at home to Watford and West Brom and at Manchester United in their last game as manager Ronald Koeman got one over on his old nemesis Louis Van Gaal. Saints’ away record this campaign is a mixed W3-D4-L4, with all those defeats coming in a row during their barren run, reminiscent of last season when they lost their last five away games as their top-four bid faded away. Their record when travelling to top-six teams since Koeman took over at the start of last season is W2-D1-L6, with both those wins coming over Man Utd and the draw at Chelsea last term. They trailed at half-time in four of the six defeats and failed to score in two, but only conceded more than twice at Manchester City this season and as a result as a result six of these nine games had Under 2.5 Goals, with four having Under 1.5.
Despite Southampton having some success against the Gunners recently, the North London side have won their three home games against the Saints in the Premier League since their promotion in 2012/13. Indeed, Arsenal were seventh when they took on Southampton who were flying high in third when this fixture took place last season and yet they were a similar price as they are here.
Arsenal will be boosted by the return of Per Mertesacker and Francis Coquelin for this one, with Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck the only remaining absentees and as a result the Gunners look a little big to us at 1.86. They kept clean sheets at home against United, Stoke and Liverpool with their defensive shield Coquelin in the side but since they don’t tend to win heavily at home to middle-third sides coupled with Southampton’s efforts of usually keeping it respectable in defeat at the big sides, the Arsenal win and Under 2.5 Goals looks like the best bet at what should be around 3.75 once the market forms. As always with this bet you can also dutch the 1-0/2-0 correct scores.
Leicester v Liverpool
Wednesday February 3, 6:45am
With the sides they picked in the FA Cup, both Claudio Ranieri and Jurgen Klopp highlighted that their priorities lie in the league this season. For their Third Round replay with Spurs, stars of the season N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were all on the bench for Leicester. Liverpool opted for very much a second-string side when hosting West Ham in the Fourth Round on Saturday, with the likes of Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana not even on the bench. Both these sides won their last Premier League games in differing styles as Leicester cruised to a 3-0 win at home to Stoke, while Liverpool came away with the spoils in a 5-4 thriller at Carrow Road to move up to 7th.
With Manchester City being held to a draw at West Ham and Arsenal losing at home to Chelsea, Leicester’s win over Stoke was made even sweeter and they now have a three point lead at the top of the table. They kept their fourth clean sheet in five games against Mark Hughes’s side and have now only lost just one of their last 16, though Liverpool will be buoyed by the fact that the defeat came against them at Anfield. At home, they’re W6-D4-L1, conceding just three goals in their last seven with that sole defeat coming against Arsenal. Their record when hosting sides between 4th and 10th this season is W2-D2-L0, with wins over Watford and Stoke and draws against Spurs and United and they’ve also beaten Chelsea at home.
Liverpool have proved difficult to get a hold on since Klopp took over, almost epitomised by that win at Norwich, as they’ve won at Chelsea and Man City but lost at Newcastle and at home to Palace. Five of their 15 games under the former Dortmund man have had Under 1.5 goals but five have also had Over 3.5 goals as they’ve gone from one extreme to another with seemingly no middle ground. Klopp’s away record is W4-D1-L3 as his Liverpool side scored 13 goals in their wins against Chelsea, City, Sunderland and Norwich but failed to score in defeats at West Ham, Watford and Newcastle. Philippe Coutinho remains injured while skipper Jordan Henderson is also a doubt for this game and that comes as bad news for Liverpool fans. The Reds have lost half of the six games Coutinho has missed this season, twice against United and at home to Newcastle with their only wins in the Brazilian’s absence coming at home to Swansea and away at Norwich.
For all the hysteria surrounding the win over Norwich, it was the fourth time that Liverpool have conceded at least twice in five away games and they went into that game having scored just one goal in their last four on the road. Leicester, conversely, have been excellent defensively and will expect to find the net against Liverpool’s leaky defence. The Foxes managed to keep a clean sheet at home against City and the likes of Jordan Ibe and Lallana and Firmino should certainly be easier to contain than Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Sergio Aguero. As a result, being able to back Leicester at close to evens while covering the draw appeals in this one, with the Leicester win and even the win to nil tempting 2.7 and 3.4 shots respectively.