Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Preview, Team news, Prediction and more
Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday with both teams hoping to extend their 100% domestic record with the third win of their Premier League season.
The Reds thrashed Norwich 4-1 in the Premier League curtain-raiser before edging past Southampton 2-1 on Saturday. Sandwiched in between was their UEFA Super Cup triumph against Chelsea in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Gunners have also enjoyed a perfect start to their season, thanks to wins over Newcastle and Burnley, but the trip to Merseyside will represent their first acid test of the new season.
Arsenal’s recent visits to Anfield have been embarrassing, to say the least. Liverpool have scored 22 goals out of 30 in some staggering victories against the north London club in recent times. So, Unai Emery has a mighty task of changing the scenario at the weekend.
For Liverpool, Alisson Becker has a suspected grade two tear and is not expected to be fit for the Arsenal game. Naby Keita has a muscle problem and will miss Saturday’s game, while Nathaniel Clyne is a long-term casualty.
Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin is continuing his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury, although he won’t be available anytime soon. New signing Kieran Tierney remains unavailable due to a groin problem but Rob Holding has participated in full training with the first-team squad.
Granit Xhaka could return after missing the Burnley win while Mesut Ozil was absent due to illness and is back in full training now.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Georginio Wijnaldum; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.
Arsenal (3-5-2): Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac; Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette.
Jurgen Klopp should go with his usual 4-3-3 formation on Saturday. Adrian will continue to deputise in goal, with Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson forming the back-four.
Having Fabinho as the shield in front of the back-four, the likes of Wijnaldum and Chamberlain should get the free license to join the attacks often and cause problems to the Arsenal defence.
Liverpool’s high press is very difficult to contain and the onus will be on Chamberlain to help drive the attack from the midfield.
The Reds are powered by their front three of Mane, Firmino and Salah. They are slowly starting to hit form but given their fantastic record at Anfield against Arsenal, Klopp will expect his fiery front three to deliver the goods.
Unai Emery, on the other hand, could revert to a back-three system on Saturday. It is a system in which many of the Arsenal central defenders feel comfortable.
David Luiz is the best ball-playing defender of the lot and he will be accompanied by Sokratis and Monreal at the back, with Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac as wing-backs.
The Gunners will look to use the width while hitting Liverpool on the counter as full-backs Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are defensively suspect and provide a lot of space behind them due to their natural attacking mindset.
Guendouzi has started the season encouragingly and should be partnered in the midfield by Xhaka, and Ceballos, who royally impressed with his performance against Burnley. It’ll be vital for Arsenal’s midfield to nullify the threat of Wijnaldum and Chamberlain while in transition.
As record-signing Pepe is still being eased in, Emery is expected to go with the two-pronged attack of Aubameyang and Lacazette. Liverpool have been shaky at the back so far in the new season, which could present Lacazette and Aubameyang with some chances to pounce on.
It’ll be a wild contest in front of the ever-boisterous Anfield crowd. Expect Liverpool to dominate possession, press very hard, force mistakes and pounce on it.
Also, expect their backline to make a couple of errors and get punished by Arsenal’s attack. Nevertheless, the game should end in favour of the Reds.
Prediction: Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal