Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Preview & Prediction
The reigning Champions League winners take on the Gunners in the battle of the Premier League teams who are yet to lose a point in the ongoing campaign. Will Liverpool continue their domination on their hallowed Anfield or Arsenal thwart them to pick all three points?
The Reds have gone from strength to strength after the arrival of Jurgen Klopp. He has made some shrewd signings over the years to suit his heavy metal football. Anfield is one of the toughest places to come and take points from.
Liverpool have proved to be a tough nut to crack after their defensive reinforcements in the form of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson. The Reds are unbeaten for the last 39 matches at home and it would require something extraordinary from Arsenal to break this streak.
Last season was like a dream for Liverpool as they won their seventh Champions League title after losing it in the 2017-18 finals. They also recorded the most points for a runner up by accumulating 97 points and missed out on the title by a single point. Liverpool’s defence was impregnable as they only conceded 22 goals which was the best in all of Europe. The Anfield crowd acts as the 12th man and the atmosphere is breathtaking.
Arsenal have been bolstered in all the departments in the summer transfer window and are looking to leave behind the disappointment of past seasons. This could be the perfect opportunity for the Gunners to show their muscle and hurt Liverpool’s chances of eclipsing Manchester City as the Champions of England.
Arsenal came fifth last season, just a point behind their cross-town rivals, Tottenham. They were a team in transformation and did well. The London side missed out on the Champions League spot and now have to ply their trade in the Europa League.
The Gunners performed well against the lower ranked sides but failed to take their chances against the big boys of the league and suffered heavy defeats. They also suffered a humiliating defeat in the corresponding fixture last season.
For Arsenal, it has been the best transfer market in years. Nicholas Pepe became the club’s record signing as he signed from Lille for a whopping €65 M. Kieran Tierney and David Luiz also arrived to bolster the defence which leaked 51 goals last season.
Arsenal hopefuls have been excited for this season and would be hoping to mount a title challenge for the first time in years. If Arsenal defence held their fort, then Arsenal have got the forward line to hurt any team and winning a title is not a far-fetched dream.
Liverpool Injury News:
.Alisson Becker is out for the next few weeks because of a calf injury he sustained on the opening weekend. Adrian will deputize in his absence.
Nathaniel Clyne is a long time absentee whereas, Naby Keita and Dejan Lovren are doubtful for the clash. Apart from Alisson, Liverpool would be full strength and will field its first choice line-up.
Arsenal Injury News:
Hector Bellerin and Konstantinos Mavropanos are long-term absentees. Ainsley Maitland-Niles will continue at right back given his excellent performances.
Club record signing Nicolas Pepe is being eased into the eleven and will probably be unleashed given the magnitude of the fixture. Kieran Tierney is still a few weeks away from game time. Whereas, the excellent Dani Ceballos will most probably keep out a returning Ozil. Granit Xhaka could return and will try to get Arsenal forward with his array of passes.
Battles to look out for:
Virgil van Dijk vs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Van Dijk is arguably the best defender in the World right now. He has been a revelation ever since his arrival at Anfield. The Dutch captain marshals his defence well and is also more than capable of chipping away with a goal or two as evidenced by the four goals he scored last season.
He is the reigning PFA Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season. Liverpool only lost a single game, conceded the least number of goals and recorded the highest number of clean sheets last season.
Aubameyang is a proven goal scorer. In his first full season in the Premier League, he won the Golden Boot. He scored 22 goals but couldn’t propel Arsenal to one of the Champions League spots.
The Gabonese, if not looked after could wreak havoc on his day. He needs to fire for the Gunners to stand a chance to come away with a point or three.
This will be the most crucial battle. Arsenal will look to release Aubameyang to utilize his pace and Van Dijk is the one who would be responsible for not letting it happen. It will be an entertaining battle and will surely decides the outcome of the match.
Sadio Mane vs Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Mane was one of the joint winners of the Premier League Golden Boot. He is also coming from his most successful season till yet in which he won the Champions League and was the runner up in the Premier League and Africa Cup of Nations.
The former Red Bull Salzburg star is a menace down the left in the Liverpool’s forward line. His defensive rate is great as well.
Maitland-Niles has fitted in well in the Arsenal’s defensive line, where he is playing out of position. He helps the team in attack as well in defence.
The youngster recorded 2.1 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game last season which would come in handy in handling the threat of Mane and Robertson.
This battle will determine which side reign supreme in one side of the pitch. Maitland-Niles would have to be at his absolute best as Liverpool forward line is known for interchanging its positions as well. He has to be on the lookout and thwart the danger before it becomes dangerous for his side.
Liverpool is on another level right now and the north London side would have to be at their absolute best. Arsenal is a much improved from last year and could give Liverpool a run for their money.
Anfield is a fortress and I don’t think Arsenal is capable of breaching it as yet. The Gunners could peg them back by a solitary goal but the match will be won by a superior Liverpool. We predict a scoreline of 3-1 in favour of Liverpool.
Prediction: Liverpool 3 - 1 Arsenal