Liverpool have convincingly defeated Arsenal at Anfield in each of the last three seasons and will be confident of again emerging victorious when they meet there on Saturday (5.30pm, live on Sky Sports).
Liverpool triumphed 3-1 in this fixture in 2016-17, 4-0 in 2017-18 and then 5-1 last season, with Roberto Firmino scoring a hat-trick. The last two matches at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium have ended in draws but at Anfield, Liverpool clearly have the advantage.
It is one they will seek to press home on Saturday in order to record a third consecutive victory at the start of the new campaign. Last season’s title race showed just how consistent they will have to be if they are to have any chance of overcoming reigning two-time champions Manchester City. Three wins out of three would represent a very good start.
Jurgen Klopp’s side kicked off the season with a 4-1 win over Norwich at Anfield, and they then defeated Southampton 2-1 away from home last weekend. Sadio Mane gave them the lead in first-half stoppage time. Then Firmino added a second midway through the second period to hold on for the win despite their hosts getting one back towards the end.
Liverpool were slightly fortunate not to concede again in the closing minutes, with their former striker Danny Ings failing to convert from close range just a few minutes after he had reduced the deficit to one.
It is too early to draw any sort of meaningful conclusions as to where Liverpool stand in relation to last season, but they have looked surprisingly open defensively so far. They had the best defensive record in the league last season, conceding just 22 times (although their underlying statistics were not quite as impressive), but they’ve conceded twice and given up a fair few decent chances across their first couple of matches.
That is something that will at least give Arsenal some hope of getting a result on Saturday. Their strength was clearly skewed towards their attack last season. They had the third-best attacking record in the Premier League, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tying with Liverpool’s Mane and Mohamed Salah for the title of top goalscorer on 22 goals.
The club’s big-ticket summer signing was the Lille forward Nicolas Pepe, for whom they paid £72 million on the back of 22 goals and 11 assists last season. The loan signing of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid added mobility and creativity to their midfield. Those moves would certainly suggest that they will continue to be a team that focuses on attack, although they did also bring in David Luiz from Chelsea and the Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney.
Whether they will be capable of improving what was only the ninth-best defence in the league last season remains to be seen. Arsenal conceded at least 12 more goals than any of the four teams who finished above them and nearly 30 more than Liverpool did.
Like Liverpool, Arsenal come into this fixture on the back of two victories. They won 1-0 away at Newcastle on the opening day of the season and then had a few problems seeing off a competitive Burnley side at the Emirates last weekend. Alexandre Lacazette gave them an early lead, only for their visitors to strike back just before half-time. Aubameyang got the second-half winner off a second assist of the match for Ceballos.
Saturday’s match offers a much tougher task for the Gunners. They had a terrible record away to the top half of the table last season, losing seven and winning none of their nine road matches. They conceded two or more goals six times and lost by two or more goals on four occasions. It isn’t clear that their defensive performance is likely to be much improved this time around.
So while Liverpool haven’t looked all that secure themselves over the first couple of weeks of the campaign, they certainly have enough firepower in their front three of Firmino, Mane and Salah to think that even if they concede one or two, they will still be able to come away with a relatively comfortable victory.
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