Both teams have won their opening two games, so something has to give between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday evening.
Arsenal’s Anfield Hoodoo
Since Jurgen Klopp took over at Liverpool, Arsenal has been beaten 4-0, 3-1 and 5-1 at Anfield, and the Gunners are yet to take all three points from Merseyside since the 2012-13 season. Arsenal took the lead in last year’s fixture before a Roberto Firmino inspired demolition job saw the Reds score four before half time. This could prove to be a more even game, with Liverpool’s back four not looking quite as solid as last season and the Gunners’s attacking threat up there with the best in Europe on their day.
Both teams have made 100% starts to their seasons- the only two Premier League teams to take six points from six- but neither has fired on all cylinders yet. Arguably both have relied on moments of individual quality- see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals against Newcastle and Burnley- to carry them to victory, and it would not be surprising if that was the case on Saturday. Liverpool’s formidable home record, though, continued on the opening night of the season against Norwich when they blew apart the Canaries in the first half. Arsenal will need to be wary of being too open as they have been in recent visits.
Liverpool is still without goalkeeper Alisson, set to return from his calf injury next month, and Naby Keita who remains a week away from being fully fit. Nathaniel Clyne is their only long term layoff.
Likely XI: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Firmimo, Mane
Arsenal has Mesut Ozil available after illness kept him out against Burnley, whilst Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin, and Dino Mavropanos will all strengthen Unai Emery’s defensive options on their returns in October. Granit Xhaka is a doubt with a back problem.
Likely XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Ceballos, Guendouzi; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Nacho Monreal will have his work cut out against the pace and trickery of Mohamed Salah, who will no doubt be told by Klopp to target the left back’s declining pace. It would make sense for Arsenal to set up to defend deep - they are capable but under both Arsene Wenger and Emery have been reluctant to do so - and hit on the counter. Dani Ceballos’s ability to break the press with his close control could be key to a good counter-attacking option, with the pace of Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe ideal for such a setup.
What the managers said
Jurgen Klopp (Liv): On Liverpool’s team spirit… “There are different types of team spirit, the team won the Champions League last season so it would be strange if they didn't. It's about being able to kick the butts of your team-mates, not just having drinks together.”
Unai Emery (Ars): On playing Liverpool… “For us, we don't want to play against Liverpool ever. We'd prefer not to play against them. That is really our challenge, a really good test. For the supporters, for all of us, going there with six points is good.”