Last weekend, in one of the most outrageous/hilarious (depending on your point of view) moments in English Premier League history occurred. Living man-mountain Steven Gerrard came on at half-time against Liverpool’s bitter rivals Manchester United. His team was 1-0 down and badly floundering; they needed their captains influence to make things safe. Gerrard, however, thought it was a good idea to get sent off in under a minute.
Following their battling but futile effort to get something from the game, Liverpool lost 2-1 and left themselves in a bit of a tough position with regards to getting qualification to the UEFA Champions League sorted out. Their next game, away to Arsenal at the Emirates, will be equally challenging through. Arsenal are in strong form after the Monaco debacle in Europe and typically have a strong home record against Liverpool since they moved to the Emirates.
Both goalkeepers, Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) and David Ospina (Arsenal) have come under fire this season. Mignolet was the target of abuse for close to a year of poor form and ricks that were costing the Reds big games. Ospina has been caught out a few times recently, too, and the Gunners fans don’t seem to hold too much confidence in the Colombian. However, in the last few months both have been seen in a more positive light by their fans as they start to regain confidence and get themselves into the right frame of mind.
So, who is more likely to keep a clean sheet during the game? Will it be the revived Mignolet or the ever-improving Ospina?
Personally, in the Premier League betting world, I’d be going for Ospina. Mignolet is arguably the better keeper, but;
- Liverpool are shocking at the Emirates; they’ve won there just once since it opened (in Kenny Dalglish’ full season before being axed)
- Mignolet has a strong away clean sheet record in 2015 but moving punching machine Martin Skrtel is missing. He might not be a particularly great player but it will be hard for whoever steps in to have the same familiarity with those around him – the chances of Mignolet leaving London with a clean sheet are fairly minimal
- Arsenal have a strong home record this season and would be the most likely winners of the match
- Brendan Rodgers, the Reds manager, has a bit of a habit of losing the “crunch” games in his Anfield career so far. If he wants to break the cycle and get himself back on track properly for a Top Four finish, he’ll need to get his tactics spot on against a very good Arsenal side
In the Premier League betting stakes I’d be going for Ospina to keep the clean sheet, purely on the basis that Liverpool have a habit of really disappointing you. A win at the Emirate would totally change their season, but a loss effectively signals the end of their top four run; and, in turn, could be the end for both Mignolet and Rodgers. The margins are this fine.