Arsenal vs Liverpool: Match Preview

The international break is over and the final leg of the Premier League race is upon us. Arsenal face Liverpool in London and both teams are battling for domestic improvements in the league table.
Author:
Publish date:

Liverpool travel to a happy hunting ground in the nation’s capital where three points at the Emirates could be what the Reds need to gain ground and momentum on their chase for Champions League qualification.

Neither Arsenal or Liverpool have shone in the Premier League this season and both could be labelled as underachievers, should league positions stay as they are come the close of the campaign.

Saturday's visitors have no doubt been hampered and hounded by hindering injuries, but they could still rescue a Champions League spot with a strong finish to the season... Albeit they will have to rely on teams above them dropping points.

The Gunners are currently two places and four points behind in ninth place and Mikel Arteta will be feeling the pressure, especially if he tastes defeat at the hands of Jurgen Klopp. A good omen for the former Everton player is that he has a very good record against the German, winning three and losing only once against Liverpool as a manager.

Last time out Liverpool beat Wolves 1-0 after a Diogo Jota goal whilst Arsenal drew 3-3 against West Ham after being 3-0 down.

sipa_32645931

Liverpool Team News

For once, Liverpool come through a round of international fixtures unscathed. With no fresh injury worries, Liverpool actually benefitted from the break as it allowed Roberto Firmino time to recover from a knee injury. 

The Brazilian is available this weekend and has a wonderful record against Arsenal, scoring eight goals in total. Whether he is fit enough to play a full 90 minutes is a doubt, especially given the scintillating form of Diogo Jota since his return from injury.

The question mark around Sadio Mane’s form still lingers, but the Senegalese star has found the back of the net four times this season in London: not a bad strike rate considering Mane has only scored seven league goals in total.

Alisson and his magical moustache will feature in goal with Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips favourites to start ahead of him. Good news for those who want to see Fabinho dictate that midfield, something the defensive midfielder has done ever since the pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips has been established at the back.

Thiago Alcantara only played a handful of minutes for Spain in the break and hopefully, he is free to roam and create in midfield once again with a strong six behind him. Naby Keita, Gini Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Xherdan Shaqiri are also fit to play.

sipa_32587578
Sadio Mane

Curtis Jones was sent off in midweek for England U21’s after the young starlet seemingly wanted to fight the whole Croatian team whilst defending former Red, Rhian Brewster. Rumours of racism towards Brewster are circulating and Jones showed his leadership qualities for the national side by rightly confronting the Croatians. If he plays with that fire and intensity on Saturday, he could be unleashed.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was dropped from England duty (bizarrely) so hopefully feels fresh in his legs and ready to run riot over a dubious Arsenal defence. His full-back partner Andy Robertson however, played 270 minutes for Scotland: the amount of football the flying Scotsman has endured this season is staggering.

Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson are all sidelines and Divock Origi is a doubt with a muscular problem.

Arsenal Team News

The Gunners are battling against time to prove Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe’s fitness for the fixture with hamstring and thigh issues casting a doubt over their availability.

Saka’s absence could ensure Nicolas Pepe starts alongside Alex Lacazette and the deadly Pierre-Emrick Aubamayang with Norwegian star Martin Odegaard sitting in behind.

Their midfield will most likely consist of the double pivot of Thomas Partay and Granit Xhaka to anchor the team and keep close tabs of Liverpool’s creative forces.

It will be interesting to see what Arteta does with the right full-back position, as we expect Kieran Tiernay to start on the left. 

Hector Bellerin was left out of the starting XI against West Ham which allowed Callum Chambers to make the most of his opportunity. Bellerin's experience and pace may be needed again though to deal with the threat of the Liverpool attack.

Mikel Arteta

Match Facts

  • This Saturday will see these two rivals face off again in the 233rd meeting in all competitions. Liverpool have won 90 of those games and Arsenal has tasted victory in 81.
  • No Premier League clash has featured more goals than this upcoming game: Liverpool and Arsenal share 166 goals scored since 1992.
  • Liverpool have gained 13 points from a possible 15 in games played in London this season, winning four and drawing the other. The Reds haven’t achieved five victories in London since the 1989/90 season but could achieve that feat on Saturday.
  • Alexandre Lacazette has scored in his last three games against Liverpool
sipa_32646427
sipa_32645782

Summary

In a must-win game, as is every at this stage in the season, Liverpool sill have perhaps a glimmer of hope of qualifying for the Champions League domestically. Top 4 rivals Leicester take on Man City this weekend and The Reds can close ground if results go their way.

For Arsenal reputation is at stake and they will also be looking to climb the league table to gain ground on the pack above them.

Liverpool face Real Madrid on Tuesday so Klopp could be tempted to rest a few players for that game, but at this crucial end of the season, anything less than a win would come under scrutiny.