Venue – Anfield
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Sunday, August 27th @ 16:00 BST
Liverpool come into this game after successfully navigating a potential banana-skin of a Champions League playoff with Hoffenheim of Germany. Since the 3-3 opening day result at Watford, the Reds have won their last three games in a row, beating Hoffenheim twice, either side of the home win against Palace. Liverpool, surprisingly, are aiming for a fourth home Premier League clean sheet in a row. Although, judging on recent games with the Londoners I wouldn’t put my house on it.
Arsenal defeated Chelsea on penalties in the Community Shield, then beat Leicester 4-3 at the Emirates before suffering a 1-0 defeat away to Stoke last Saturday evening. With Alexis Sanchez returning, Arsenal will pose a new set of problems for Liverpool’s defence. He may not be 100% match fit but if Sanchez is in the right mind-frame then he will need to be monitored closely. Arsenal must consider themselves unlucky after the defeat at Stoke. Arsenal had 77% possession and 18 shots on goal but Jack Butland was in inspired form to deny them.
Arsenal owe Klopp’s men some payback after Liverpool denied them of Champions League qualification for the first time in 20 years by holding onto fourth place last season. Whether they have the wherewithal about them to actually inflict that revenge is another question.
This is normally the exact type of game that suits Liverpool. Arsenal will not come to Anfield to defend. They don’t know how to play like that. They will come at us. They will leave space. They may well score one or two (or more) but can they stop the Liverpool forward line from bagging them at the other end? Mané has been in sensational form so far this season. Firmino displayed his class on Wednesday night against Hoffenheim. Emre Can is making himself undroppable and Salah is enjoying his start in the Red jersey.
Liverpool are without Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne, due to injury. Clyne should be available again after the International break and it will be very interesting to see how Klopp decides on the RB role after the recent emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Coutinho saga isn’t likely to be over until after the window closes. I don’t expect to see Phil line out for the Reds this Sunday.
The Gunners have an almost clean bill of health with Santi Cazorla their only player on the injury list. Koscielny is back from suspension, also.
Alexis Sanchez is said to be fit to make his first appearance of the season for Arsenal. Wenger and co will be hoping it’s not his last. If Arsenal can get through this next week or so while holding onto their Chilean attacker it will have a huge impact on their season. Sanchez has been one of the best performers in English football since his arrival from Barcelona in the summer of 2014.
Liverpool XI – Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Robertson, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mané
Arsenal XI – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Bellerin, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette
When they last met
Liverpool did the double over Arsenal last season and haven’t lost to the Gunners since the 4-1 hammering at the Emirates in April 2015. Last season’s Anfield meeting was a 3-1 victory for Liverpool with Firmino, Mané and Wijnaldum on the scoresheet. Welbeck scored for Arsenal.
We should see plenty of goals on Sunday. The last three games between these two teams have brought us 17 goals, averaging almost six per game!
As already mentioned, we should see goals galore on Sunday. I think Liverpool are ticking along nicely after a slow but steady start to the season. It’s also impossible to ignore Klopp’s record against the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League. Victory at Anfield would send Liverpool into the break with seven points from nine in the Premier League. Along with qualification for the Champions League group stages, that has to be considered a very positive start to 2017/18.
Wenger seems to have been under a constant wave of pressure in the Arsenal hot-seat for at least five years now. The French bossman will be hoping to get the minimum of a draw here so he can ‘enjoy’ the International break, and quieten the calls for his head for at least another week or two.
Liverpool 3 – 2 Arsenal