The two ‘bottlers’ of the top six will go head-to-head in Saturday evening’s late kick-off as the Premier League season starts to heat up.
Liverpool will be hoping to brush off a terrible start to 2017 with a victory in their first game in March. It comes off the back of an incredibly poor performance against Leicester City in which the Reds wasted an opportunity to move back into the top four.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding Arsene Wenger’s future at the club and a top four finish is almost definitely a requirement if he hopes to remain for a little while longer.
Both teams are going head-to-head in the race for a Champions League spot so it’s crucial neither team succumb to defeat at Anfield.
Match: Liverpool vs Arsenal
Referee: Robert Madley
Date: Saturday 4th March
Time: 17.30 BST
TV Channel: BT Sport 1
Liverpool are in their worst form of the season having picked up just two victories since the turn of the new year so they are in desperate need of a victory. Their performance against Leicester was awful to say the least and they were knocked out of two cup competitions in January alone. Manchester United have tallied up the points and are now just one point below Liverpool in sixth place so Klopp’s side need to pick up a victory and leap-frog Arsenal in the top four.
The Gunners go into the game on the back of their 2-0 victory over Sutton United in the FA Cup however they were slaughtered by Bayern Munich in the Champions League a fortnight ago. They have been inconsistent in 2017 and suffered back-to-back defeats against Watford and Chelsea before recording a victory over Hull City last month. Despite this, Arsenal remain just three points behind north London rivals Tottenham in the league and a victory will put them in a good position in the table.
Liverpool came out as 4-3 winners in the last encounter on the opening day of the season so Arsenal will be seeking revenge on a side who have the best record in the league against opponents in the top six.
Santi Cazorla has been ruled out for the season while Aaron Ramsey is unlikely to recover in time from a calf problem, meaning Wenger will have some cause for concern with his selection in midfield.
Arsenal’s most worrying loss though will be Mesut Ozil should he fail to recover in time to feature at Anfield. He is currently struggling with a back injury and reports suggest he will not be able to play which will be a huge loss.
Laurent Koscielny should be fit for Arsenal but Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is expected not to feature having missed the 3-1 defeat against Leicester City on Monday.
Dejan Lovren is also still a doubt having been absent for a month but Daniel Sturridge should return to the bench despite missing the last game through illness.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lucas, Milner, Wijnaldum, Can, Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho, Mane
Arsenal Predicted XI: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Gibbs, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Sanchez
WHEN THEY LAST MET
It was the first day of the season and Liverpool were rife with enthusiasm and energy. It was certainly some start from both teams as the net burst open on both ends with the goals flying in.
Liverpool went home from the Emirates with a 4-3 victory though and it was Sadio Mane’s solo debut goal which stole the headlines.
PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 2-1 ARSENAL
There’s almost always goals in meetings between these two sides as both lack defensive solidity but it could be a more cautious approach from the managers on this occasion given what is at stake. Liverpool have an exceptional record against the top six and their inconsistency usually coincides with victories against their rivals so they could just nudge it with a late goal.