PREVIEW | Arsenal v Liverpool (Premier League)

PÁDRAIG O’CALLAGHAN brings recent form, team news and predictions ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

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Liverpool travel to the Emirates to face Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side, with recent results meaning they have little room for error if they want to claim the record points total in a single Premier League season.

Arsenal lost for the ninth time this season as they were defeated by arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The Gunners actually played well in the game and should have probably been out of sight, but like so many times before poor defending and unnecessary errors allowed their opposition to get back into the side and eventually win.

Meanwhile, last time out Liverpool dropped points at Anfield for the first time this season. A Nick Pope-inspired Burnley side made the Reds rue missed chances as they scored their only shot on target of the game to ensure the points were shared on Merseyside.

Recent form

Arsenal’s poor season continued as they lost the north London derby. The 90 minutes against Tottenham pretty much summed up Arteta’s short tenure in charge at the club. The Spaniard named a full-strength side as he looked to get advantage of a faltering Spurs side and get some positivity into the fan base.


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Alexandre Lacazette gave them the perfect start, thundering a strike in from outside the box. It’s all well and good having three excellent attackers to choose from, but when you field a back three which consists of Sead Kolasinac, David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi, a mistake is always likely to happen.

Within five minutes of the opener, Spurs were level through Son Heung-min. Kolasinac’s pass evaded Luiz which saw the South Korean race through on goal and then dink it over stand-in goalkeeper Emi Martínez. Arsenal continued to dominate but the home side came closest to scoring a second when Ben Davies’ strike was tipped onto the crossbar by the Arsenal ‘keeper to keep the score level going into the break.

It was the away side’s turn to hit the woodwork next, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang striking the post from a tight angle. Despite the Gunners being the better side, they failed to test Tottenham’s defence enough and were made to pay in the 80th minute as Toby Alderweireld headed in from a corner which saw Spurs leapfrog Arsenal in the table.

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Liverpool’s 100pc record at home this season came to an end as they settled for a draw against Burnley. The Reds played some excellent stuff for 70 minutes with a side which included youngsters Curtis Jones and Neco Williams. Liverpool peppered the Clarets’ goal with multiple shots, but Nick Pope was equal to almost everything, denying Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané in the first half.

It took a superb header from an unlikely source to open the scoring. Fabinho received possession of the ball following the second phase from a corner, and it was his chipped pass to the back post which found Andy Robertson who curled a header into the top corner.

Liverpool continued to dominate in the second half, but couldn’t beat Pope for a second time. Roberto Firmino came closest to scoring when his fluffed shot hit the post.

Burnley made the Reds pay for their efficiency in front of goal. A free-kick from their half was headed to the edge of the box by James Tarkowski, before Jay Rodriguez turned and struck into the bottom corner to level the scores.

Team news

Arsenal have a couple of first team players out due to injury, with Bernd Leno, Pablo Marí, Calum Chambers, Gabriel Martinelli and Mesut Özil all unavailable for selection, while Eddie Nketiah is suspended.

Emiliano Martínez has been the replacement for Leno and has performed well considering his lack of play time. In his six starts he has kept three clean sheets and has made numerous excellent saves to keep his side in the game.

Rob Holding will replace Kolasinac in defence completing a back three alongside Mustafi and David Luiz. Kieran Tierney and Cédric Soares will provide width from wing-back.

Until they lost to Spurs, Arsenal were unbeaten in 14 games in which Granit Xhaka started (excluding Man City when he went off injured after eight minutes). The midfielder has had many critics during his Arsenal career but he has proved to be a vital cog under Mikel Arteta. The Swiss international will start alongside Dani Ceballos in midfield.

Up front will be Nicholas Pépé, Lacazette and Aubameyang. Only the latter has performed consistently this season but with his club failing to qualify for Europe he looks disinterested as a move away gets more likely.

Jürgen Klopp is without Jordan Henderson and Joël Matip for the trip to the Emirates and it is likely that James Milner will also be unavailable for selection following a muscle injury.

Curtis Jones and Neco Williams will probably be benched for the game due to the quality of opposition faced. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keïta are prime candidates to replace the duo, while the rest of the team should keep their places.

Mo Salah has an excellent record against Arsenal. The Egyptian has five goals in as many games so you would expect him to terrorise the Gunners again. Roberto Firmino also has a similarly strong record against this opposition, so hopefully we’ll see some goals.

Prediction

Arsenal have played well in recent weeks despite some results not going their way, they do however give the opposite a chance to score due to their poor defence, David Luiz being the culprit for the majority of them. Liverpool will press with high intensity to try to force errors but that will leave space in behind which Arsenal’s front three can take advantage of.

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Jordan Henderson will be a big miss for the Reds. They win only 60pc of the games he doesn’t play compared to 90pc when he does. He sets the tempo for the game and, against a decent Arsenal midfield, our midfield may have trouble imposing themselves in the game.

There is a sizeable gulf in class between the two sides, which is represented by the 43 point gap between them. Liverpool’s build-up play at the weekend was excellent, so if the Reds carry that over and remember to wear our finishing boots it should be a comfortable evening.

Predicted final score: Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool


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