Arsenal vs Liverpool - Reds in battle to keep top-four hopes alive
Venue – Emirates Stadium, London
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Saturday, April 3rd @ 19:00
Current Odds – Arsenal 21/10, Draw 5/2, Liverpool 6/5
Just weeks ago, many of us thought this season was going to have to be considered a ‘non-event’ by Liverpool Football Club. However, after progressing in the Champions League and clawing back some points domestically, there appears to be a top-four place to play for, as well as a huge clash with Real Madrid in Europe’s premier competition. A win at Arsenal on Saturday would be a fantastic boost in The Reds’ push for a top-four finish. It would also be the perfect preparation for facing LaLiga giants Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Over to you, Reds…
Arsenal have won five of their last 10 games in all competitions. Mikel Arteta’s side just about advanced to the next round of the Europa League despite losing 1-0 at home to Olympiacos.
Last time out, The Gunners fought back to earn a 3-3 draw after being three goals down in the first half away to West Ham United.
Arteta’s team is 9th in the Premier League at the moment, four points behind Liverpool.
Liverpool won their last two games – against RB Leipzig and Wolves – but are still on a six-game losing streak at Anfield (the RB Leipzig ‘home’ leg was in Budapest). They may well be glad they are away to Arsenal on Saturday night.
With Diogo Jota back from injury and a potentially decent centre-back pairing of Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak, as well as the return of Fabinho to midfield, Liverpool have looked far better in their last two games.
That needs to continue, however, as they won’t be seeing Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Joël Matip, or Virgil van Dijk returning this season.
Arsenal Team News
Willian and Bukayo Saka are the only Arsenal players with any injury problems. Both of them are expected to be fit to make the squad this weekend, however.
Mikel Arteta generally favours a 4-2-3-1 formation for his team. Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka will be the pairing at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.
New signing, Martin Ødegaard, will be tasked with providing from midfield for the danger men, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are currently without Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Joël Matip.
Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino, and Caoimhin Kelleher will face late fitness tests to determine if they are available for selection for this game.
Jürgen Klopp is likely to stick with the central-defensive partnership of Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak for this one. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson will start in their usual places on each flank.
In midfield, it will probably be Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, and Thiago Alcântara.
With Firmino only on his way back from injury, it should be Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mané in attack. With the exceptional form of Jota, both with Liverpool and Portugal, since his return, Klopp may well have kept him in the starting lineup ahead of Firmino anyway.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1) – Leno; Soares, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Ødegaard, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Thiago; Jota, Salah, Mané
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool have won just one of their last four meetings with Arsenal in all competitions.
That victory came at Anfield earlier this season when goals from Sadio Mané, Andy Robertson, and Diogo Jota gave The Reds a 3-1 win after Alexandre Lacazette had put Arsenal ahead.
Last season, The Gunners won 2-1 at the Emirates shortly after Liverpool had clinched the league title off Manchester City. Mané scored first that day but Lacazette and Reiss Nelson replied for Arsenal to take the points.
ARSENAL 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool are beginning to look more like themselves, despite the existing injury issues, with each passing win. Consecutive victories over RB Leipzig and Wolves will have restored more confidence and belief within Jürgen Klopp’s first-team squad. With Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah in fine goalscoring form, I fancy Liverpool to take all three points from this one against a largely inconsistent Gunners side.