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Arsenal vs Liverpool Prediction: Jota to drive Reds into the final

Arsenal vs Liverpool: Can Jota regain his magic scoring touch at the Emirates?
Arsenal vs Liverpool: Can Jota regain his magic scoring touch at the Emirates?

Our regular tipster @JimmyThePunt  is on hand again to preview the big second leg of the League Cup Semi final between Arsenal and Liverpool. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports on Thursday night, with a 19:45 kick off.

The second leg of this tie should have been all wrapped up last week, however, a postponement due to a COVID outbreak in the Anfield camp has meant that we still do not know which side will be joining Chelsea at Wembley next month.

It is a bit ironic that after berating the legitimacy of the cancellation of the first leg, the Gunners faithful were calling for this game to be pushed back due to a lack of players, in a week that saw Sead Kolašinac leave and Pablo Mari set to join him out of the door. 

With the final taking place on February 27, there are the Champions League round of 16 knockout games and an international break taking place in the meantime. Amidst a hectic schedule, another postponement looks increasingly unlikely which is not ideal for the hosts given the depleted state of their squad. 

Arsenal vs Liverpool Tips

Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe remain unavailable due to AFCON. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also unavailable, as is Granit Xhaka due to suspension. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe are also doubts here, though the former could start if he recovers from the illness that saw him withdrawn early in the reverse fixture. Due to the shortage of central midfielders, Ben White may be forced to move into CDM with Martin Odegaard and Albert Sambi Lokonga operating just in front. 

The visitors also have their fair share of absentees. Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane are representing their nations. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has joined Thiago Alcantara (hip), Harvey Elliott (ankle) and Nat Phillips (cheekbone fracture) in the treatment room after he rolled his ankle in the Reds 3-0 win over Brentford. This should see Takumi Minamino come in on the left side of the front three which would be the only change from the weekend.

Arsenal vs Liverpool Odds

Today's Football Tips
Liverpool to win
8/7
Odds correct as of 2022-01-19 16:15 Odds subject to change.

I tipped Liverpool with a -0.25 goal handicap last week in the first leg, where despite going down to ten men, conceding 17 shots on having just 22% possession, Arsenal managed to grind out the 0-0 so we lost a point. I do not expect the Gunners to progress here and at 13/5 to win in the 90 and 7/5 to qualify, neither do the bookies which is why I am being a bit more bullish for the second leg.  

Despite falling eleven points off the pace domestically it's worth pointing out that Liverpool have only lost two competitive games all season, that is just 6%. Those defeats came against Leicester and West Ham, and over those two fixtures Liverpool had a xGD of +2.11 meaning that, according to that underlying data, Jurgen Klopp’s side should have taken four points from those games.

One win in their last four domestic games may be what appears to have cost them the league, even at this early stage. However, with leaders City winning all of their last 12 games, it is not Klopp’s sides incompetence but Pep's sides brilliance. 

Nevertheless, with domestic glory looking less and less likely as each week goes on, Klopp may have turned his attention to other silverware. With his side just a game away from Wembley, I expect the German supremo to galvanise the momentum from the emphatic win at the weekend, field a strong XI at the Emirates and push on.  

In the first leg, we saw a valiant display from Arteta’s side but with Xhaka receiving his marching orders within the first 25 minutes it meant backs to the wall for AFC. Prior to that fixture, Liverpool had put seven past them without reply and with Arteta’s side expected to attack in a greater capacity here, I think the Reds could pick them off.

Arsenal vs Liverpool Odds
Diogo Jota to score 2+ goals
11/1
Odds correct as of 2022-01-19 16:15 Odds subject to change.

This is very much a case of rinse and repeat as I tipped a Diogo Jota brace in the first leg. As previously alluded to though, the dismissal of Xhaka stifled Liverpool and in turn this angle.

We all know about Liverpool’s relentless press and how devastating it can be but with Arsenal a man light they had little interest in possession or attacking and just wanted to protect the draw. This not only rendered the Reds press ineffective but Arsenal’s low block also restricted the space in the half pockets Jota thrives in, and with so many bodies in the box he struggled to find room to be as effective as usual. 

The Portuguese international did not manage to register a single shot in last week's game but given his record vs Arsenal prior to those 90 minutes, I think it is worth sticking with this punt for another 90 minutes.

Jota had faced them four times as a Red, playing a combined total of 190 minutes and bagged a staggering four goals. That is an average of one every 48 minutes! 

During those 190 minutes, he has racked up ten shots, seven off which on target, giving him a strike rate of 0.57 per SoT which essentially means 57% of his shots on target have found the back of the net in those four appearances vs Arsenal. It is also worth noting that the bet landed during his last trip to the Emirates. This may be a coincidence, but I think it also holds relevance in relation to the dynamic of the battles between Arsenal and Liverpool in London.

Best of luck if you are backing any of these selections and please remember to gamble responsibly.

2022 P/L -6.08pts

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