Champions League challengers Liverpool and Arsenal will go head-to-head in the standout fixture of the Premier League weekend on Saturday (5.30pm, BT Sport 1).
Jurgen Klopp’s men succumbed to a 3-1 defeat by defending champions Leicester City last time out, a result which means they head into this match outside of the top four. It was an extremely disappointing result for Liverpool, who had the chance to climb up to third place with a victory at the King Power Stadium but could not take it, as they turned in one of their poorest displays of the season to date. A vast improvement will be required if they are to come out on top in front of their own supporters on Saturday, particularly as the two Manchester clubs have very winnable fixtures in game week 27.
Arsenal have not been in action in the top flight for a while now, after last weekend’s scheduled meeting with Southampton was postponed due to their opponents’ participation in the EFL Cup final. Prior to a 2-0 victory over Sutton United in the FA Cup and a 5-1 thrashing by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners against Hull City at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger’s men currently reside in fourth place as they prepare to travel to the northwest. For all of the criticism that the Frenchman has fielded in the last month or so, he has proven himself adept at leading the Gunners into the Champions League year after year.
Liverpool will be missing Dejan Lovren (knee), Danny Ings (knee), Marko Grujic (hamstring) and Ovie Ejaria (ankle), but Daniel Sturridge (illness) and Jordan Henderson (foot) should be available once more. Emre Can will probably drop out if Henderson is indeed fit enough to feature from the start, with Adam Lallana and Gini Wijnaldum his most likely partners in the centre of midfield. Further forward, Klopp will almost certainly stick with a three-man frontline of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho despite their struggles against Leicester. Liverpool will also keep faith with their usual counter-pressing approach, which has proven to be highly successful in the 2016/17 campaign against teams who look to play out from the back and defend with a high line.
Arsenal will be without midfield trio Santi Cazorla (leg), Aaron Ramsey (calf) and Mohamed Elneny (ankle) for their visit to Anfield. Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin will probably start alongside one another in the centre of the park as a consequence, with Mesut Ozil in the No.10 role, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi on the flanks and Alexis Sanchez leading the line up front. Arsenal tend to dominate possession in most of the matches they contest, but they will probably have to adopt a more counter-attacking and reactive game plan this weekend, with the speed of Walcott, Iwobi and Sanchez likely to be key.
This preview believes that Liverpool will come out on top when they take on Arsenal at Anfield this weekend. The Reds possess a fantastic record against their fellow top-six sides, having avoided defeat against Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur so far this season. Question marks remain about Wenger’s tactical nous in big away games such as this.
Arsenal should have enough about them to get on the scoresheet, which is why a home win with both teams to find the back of the net could be the way to go in this one. This preview’s betting tips’ selection is:
- Liverpool to beat Arsenal with both teams to score at a best price of 14/5 with William Hill.