A mouth-watering contest is on the cards in the Premier League this weekend, as Liverpool face off against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Two of the top four sides clash against each other this weekend, as Liverpool take on Arsenal in matchweek 11 of the 2018-19 Premier League on Saturday.
Liverpool sit second in the league standings, level on points with leaders Manchester City but behind on goal difference. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds have kept their unbeaten record in the league intact and come into Saturday’s encounter on the back of a 4-1 triumph over Cardiff City.
Liverpool have collected two points in two games against the other two top four teams in the league – Chelsea and Manchester City – and will be gunning for all three points at the Emirates to keep pace with the leaders.
Arsenal, after defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea early in the campaign, have been in sensational form. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 13 matches, winning twelve of those, with the only draw coming against Crystal Palace last weekend.
Currently occupying the fourth spot in the league table, Unai Emery’s men returned to winning ways in the midweek, beating Blackpool 2-1 in the Carabao Cup and will be keen on securing their first win against a fellow top four side this term.
Team News & Tactics
Matteo Guendouzi will miss out for Arsenal, after being sent off against Blackpool. Emery is hit with injury problems in defence with Hector Bellerin sidelined due to a muscle problem, while Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac are still unfit. Sokratis Papastathopoulos is also a doubt with an ankle issue, whereas Konstantinos Mavropanos and Mohamed Elneny are absent.
Seasoned campaigner Petr Cech is likely to be preferred in goal over summer signing Bernd Leno for the high-pressure contest owing to his experience. With Bellerin not available, Stephan Lichtsteiner is expected to come in at right-back, while Granit Xhaka will start as the makeshift left-back. Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding will start in the heart of the defence.
Lucas Torreira has established himself as a key cog in the middle for the Gunners and should take up one of the two pivot positions, with Aaron Ramsey expected to partner him against the Reds. Mesut Ozil will be in charge of playmaking duties starting in the No.10 role for Emery’s side.
Alex Iwobi has been a revelation in recent weeks and should keep hold of his place on the right flank for the home side, while star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a guaranteed starter on the opposite wing. Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette will spearhead the attack.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Holding, Xhaka; Ramsey, Torreira; Iwobi, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette;
Midfield duo Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita are unavailable for the Merseysiders’ trip to North London, while former Arsenal man Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a long term absentee.
Having shuffled his team a fair bit for the last game against Cardiff City, Klopp is expected to field his strongest XI on Saturday. The German tactician is expected to field his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation, instead of the 4-3-3 setup he usually prefers.
Alisson Becker has been a huge presence between the sticks for the Reds and is a guaranteed starter. Joe Gomez is likely to come into the team at right-back in place of Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk set to line up in the centre of the backline. Andrew Robertson should return to the team at left-back ahead of Alberto Moreno.
Summer signing Fabinho put in a commanding display last time out and should start in the middle of the park to provide a shield to the defence. He is likely to be paired up with Georginio Wijnaldum, who will look to impact the proceedings in both halves of the field.
Xherdan Shaqiri should, in all likelihood, return to the starting XI on Saturday, after his goal-scoring display coming on from the bench against Cardiff. He will start on the right wing, with Sadio Mane set to slot in on the left flank. Roberto Firmino should once again find himself starting in the No.10 role with Mohamed Salah set to start as the lone striker.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Gomez, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Salah, Mane; Salah;
- Arsenal are winless in six Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D3, L3), their longest such run against them since a 12-game sequence from 1994 to 2000.
- Liverpool have netted 17 times in their last five league games against Arsenal, scoring at least three times in each of those encounters.
- The Gunners have won just three of their last 27 Premier League games against the other ‘big six’ sides (D9, L15), losing the last five encounters.
- Liverpool’s tally of 26 points from their opening 10 matches equals their highest total at this stage of a Premier League season. Victory on Saturday would make this their outright best start in the division.
- The only previous managerial meeting between Unai Emery and Jurgen Klopp was the 2016 Europa League final, in which Emery’s Sevilla beat Liverpool 3-1.
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.53
2. Full Time Result – Arsenal or Draw @ 1.85
3. Over 10.5 Corners @ 2.10
1. Arsenal to win @ 3.90
Player to Watch
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Having secured a move to the Emirates in January earlier this year, Aubameyang has become an integral part of this Arsenal side, striking up a brilliant partnership with Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil. The Gabonese striker has been directly involved in 22 goals in his 23 Premier League appearances with Arsenal, scoring 17 times and setting up five more for his teammates.
The 29-year-old marksman goes into Saturday’s encounter on a hot streak, having netted six goals in his last four Premier League appearances. Coming up against a mean Liverpool defence, he will be key for Arsenal if they are to come out on top this weekend.
Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool
Arsenal’s attack has been in brilliant form, with the Gunners finding the back of the net on 24 occasions this season – only leaders Manchester City have scored more (27). On the other hand, Liverpool have been hard to break down defensively, conceding just four goals in 10 league games, which is the second best defensive record in the competition, only behind City (3).
The weekend encounter promises to be an entertaining affair between two top four teams of the Premier League. Emery emerged triumphant last time he clashed against Klopp. But, given the number of absentees in the Gunners’ backline heading into the game, we at The Hard Tackle expect Liverpool to edge out the Gunners narrowly at the Emirates.