Arsenal host Liverpool at Emirates in a Friday night kickoff in the final gameweek of the first half of the Premier League.
Arsenal have managed to navigate through to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup with a win over West Ham United during the midweek. On the Premier League front, the Gunners had snapped a tiny three-game winless streak with a win over Newcastle United by an identical margin compared to the midweek result.
Liverpool, on the other hand, enjoyed a midweek off, with the Reds already out of the Carabao Cup. The Reds themselves returned to winning ways after consecutive draws, with a 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth and will be keen to build on the fixture.
Arsenal do have added incentive on Friday. The Gunners can leapfrog Liverpool into top four with a win. Ahead of the crunch encounter, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
A big relief for Arsene Wenger, with Shkodran Mustafi all set to return to action on Friday. Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud will all miss the Friday match due to injuries. Francis Coquelin picked up a knock during the midweek and is a doubt for the game against Liverpool.
The main contention will be whether Arsene Wenger persists with a back-four, as he has done for the last couple of games. Shkodran Mustafi’s availability could see the manager revert to a back-three in defence.
As far as the attack is concerned, the trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette should start as the front three for Arsenal, with Lacazette the lone man upfront.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette
The stage is set for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to Emirates. The former Arsenal man has become more of a regular for Liverpool in recent times and could be in line to start on Friday.
Jurgen Klopp has received a shot in the arm ahead of the match, with Joel Matip returning to training. The Ivory Coast international will be in contention to feature at the very least, if not start. Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne though, are still sidelined.
In midfield, Emre Can and James Milner are in contention to start if Jurgen Klopp does opt to change the midfield from the 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth. Daniel Sturridge will likely miss the match due to an illness.
The midweek off should be ample time for Liverpool’s quartet to recharge their batteries and Klopp should ideally start all of them in an attempt to run the Arsenal defence ragged.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Gomez, Klavan, Lovren, Robertson; Can, Henderson, Coutinho; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Arsenal are slight favourites for the fixture. New users can check the odds and various offers available on My Betting Sites.
1. Arsenal Asian Handicap 0.0 @ 1.840
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.50
1. Result/Both Teams to Score – Arsenal & YES @ 4.00
1. Arsenal have lost their last three games against Liverpool. The Gunners last lost four consecutive games against Liverpool in May, 1998.
2. Liverpool are the first team in top-flight history to have won four consecutive games with a margin of at least three goals.
3. Arsenal have won 13 of their last 14 home matches in the Premier League.
4. In a huge contrast to the two sides’ last few matchups, Arsenal’s last 3 matches have seen less than 3 goals per game.
5. A clean sheet against Liverpool will see Petr Cech become the first goalkeeper in Premier League to record 200 clean sheets
Player to Watch
The defender has often come under the scanner for his performances in crunch games. There is hope that Joel Matip returns but if he doesn’t, Lovren will be tasked with the responsibility of keeping the Arsenal attackers at bay. And a solid outing at Emirates on Friday can go a long way in redeeming himself in front of the Kop Army.
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
Arsenal and Liverpool are two teams that should ideally both be able to get on the scoresheet. But, Arsenal are slight favourites going into the game and the return of Shkodran Mustafi should add some steel in defence for the Gunners. We expect a narrow win for Arsenal, with both the teams failing to keep a clean sheet.