Liverpool will be aiming to return to winning ways when they lock horns with rivals Arsenal at Anfield in the Premier League this weekend.
Matchday 12 of the 2021/22 Premier league kicks off on Saturday and brings us a blockbuster encounter from Anfield in the evening as Liverpool gear up to take on Arsenal, hoping to bounce back to winning ways.
Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season in their previous game before the international break, succumbing to a 3-2 loss to fellow top-four rivals West Ham United. The result meant that Jurgen Klopp’s men slipped down to fourth place in the table, four points shy of leaders Chelsea, and the gap could potentially widen to seven by the time the Reds take the field on Saturday.
So, Klopp & co. must get back on the winning track at the earliest and stay within touching distance of the west London giants. However, they will have a major roadblock in their way in the form of a resurgent Arsenal side, who have turned things around brilliantly after a sorry start to the season.
Indeed, after a few weeks into the new campaign, calls for Mikel Arteta’s head were rising by the day. But the Spaniard has managed to get the team back on the correct course, with the Gunners currently on a ten-game unbeaten run across all competitions. In fact, Arsenal are just two points and one place below Liverpool in the table and could overtake their rivals with a victory at Anfield on Saturday.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Liverpool come back from a goal down to beat Arsenal 3-1 with goals from Sadio Mane, Andrew Robertson and Diogo Jota. Ahead of their latest meeting this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
The latest team news ahead of #LIVARS 👇
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 19, 2021
Liverpool will be without a spate of stars for the game against Arsenal as Roberto Firmino, Joe Gomez, James Milner, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott remain sidelined. At the same time, captain Jordan Henderson is also a major doubt for the fixture. There is some good news, though, with Sadio Mane and Andrew Robertson expected to be ready for the clash, having recovered from their respective issues.
The Reds will line up in their usual 4-3-3 setup, with Alisson Becker guarding the goal. No changes are expected to the usual backline with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Robertson all starting. However, Kostas Tsimikas could get the nod at left-back in case the Scotsman is deemed not ready to start.
Fabinho is an undisputed starter at the base of the midfield for the hosts. Given the lack of options due to injuries, he is likely to be partnered by Thiago Alcantara and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Considering that the pair have not played all too regularly this season, they will need to step up and deliver on Saturday.
The attacking trident pretty much picks itself, with Diogo Jota set to start in a central role in the absence of Firmino while Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah occupy the flanks as usual.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane
Arsenal have two confirmed absentees for the trip to Liverpool in the form of Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac. In addition, captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, midfield mainstay Thomas Partey and youngster Folarin Balogun are all doubts for the contest.
The Gunners are likely to set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday evening, with summer signing Aaron Ramsdale lining up in goal. The Englishman has been in top form and will have a key role to play in keeping Mohamed Salah out. He will be shielded by the back four of Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney.
With Partey a doubt for the contest, Ainsley Maitland-Niles could get the nod in the middle of the park, alongside the impressive Albert Sambi Lokonga. The duo will have a battle on their hands against their Liverpool counterparts, and the winners in this tussle could define the outcome of the game.
Alexandre Lacazette has been deployed in the hole behind the striker in recent games, but with Aubameyang a doubt, the Frenchman could be moved to his favoured No. 9 slot. He will have creative support from Martin Odegaard in the No. 10 role while Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe continue in the wide areas.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Lokonga, Maitland-Niles; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Lacazette
- Liverpool have won their last five home Premier League matches against Arsenal, netting at least three goals in each game.
- Arsenal are now on the longest unbeaten run of any side in the Premier League (8 – W6 D2). The Gunners last had a longer run without defeat in the competition between August and December 2018 (14 games under Unai Emery).
- Liverpool’s defeat to West Ham last time out ended their 20-game unbeaten run in the Premier League. Each of their previous three defeats in the competition have been against teams against London, with the Reds losing consecutively against Chelsea and Fulham before that 20-game run.
- Arsenal have kept six clean sheets in their last nine Premier League away games, including each of the previous three in a row.
- Since Jurgen Klopp took charge of Liverpool, Arsenal have won just one of 11 Premier League games against the Reds (D3 L7).
Player to Watch
👑| All 10 of Mo Salah’s Premier League goals so far! Enjoy. pic.twitter.com/o54kMTUtpY
— The Kopite (@_TheKopite) November 18, 2021
The most in-form forward in Europe, Mohamed Salah, has been tearing apart defences in the new season. The 29-year-old Liverpool star has plundered 15 goals and set up six more in 15 games in all competitions thus far. With ten goals in the Premier League, he is the current top-scorer in the competition and will be licking his lips coming up against Arsenal on Saturday.
Salah has a fine record against the Gunners, having been directly involved in nine goals in nine Premier League outings versus the north London side (seven goals, two assists). At Anfield, he has scored four times and set up two more in four league appearances against Arsenal. Given the form that he is in currently, expect the Liverpool star to add to his tally this weekend.
Liverpool 1-0 Arsenal
Arsenal have been on a solid run of late, having not lost any of their previous eight league outings while keeping three clean sheets in a row. However, they will be coming up against a wounded Liverpool side who will be itching to bounce back after seeing their 20-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League snap against West Ham United last time out.
Considering the Reds’ record at Anfield in general and against Arsenal in particular, coupled with Mohamed Salah’s form, they go in as the favourites for this contest, despite losing their last game. The Hard Tackle predicts a narrow 1-0 for Jurgen Klopp & co. against a disciplined Arsenal side that will put up a strong fight but ultimately come up short.