Arsenal vs Liverpool: How can the Gunners collect three points from the visiting Reds?

Pre-match analysis ahead of Arsenal's Premier League season opener against Liverpool.

Arsenal vs Liverpool: How can the Gunners collect three points from the visiting Reds?
Can Arsenal shock Liverpool once more? Source:

The Premier League finally returns to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, as Arsenal host Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool in an emphatic encounter to open their season.

Home advantage to Arsenal

The home fans in particular will be hoping to start the new campaign well, in the attempt to build some home form to transform the Emirates into a fortress; something that hasn’t been achieved for some time.

The last time the two teams met in North London, the points were shared as the crowd were forced to settle for a goalless draw after 90 minutes. In truth, the visitors dominated the game that marked Brendan Rodgers’ final trip to Arsenal as the manager of Liverpool.

Now, the Reds arrive with more ambition, as they are advised and controlled by the charismatic figure of Jürgen Klopp. The German brings with him a much different game than the possibilities of a team led by Rodgers - without the wondrous works of Luis Suarez – Klopp has injected Liverpool with a kick of the modern style of football.

A set of tactics that are particularly catching up with the comfortable style of Arsene Wenger’s typical match day approach; a man very much set in his ways.

Will Mane make the difference? | Source: BPI/Matt West
Will Mane make the difference? | Source: BPI/Matt West

The potential threat of Klopp's Liverpool

Liverpool are a team that still appear to be transitioning between managers, being completely dazzling some match days, and embarrassing on others. The Reds showed exactly the damage they can cause when their collective mind is fully focused, beating Barcelona 4-0 in pre-season with a fantastic array of goals.

However, the day after their win, they lost 4-0 to Mainz. It must be considered that it was a total contrast of squads between the two games, but the manager stayed firmly in his place, unfortunately his approach to the game did not.

Arsenal's defensive woes

With attention turning towards tomorrow’s showdown in North London, Arsenal will be eagerly awaiting the signal as to what approach the Liverpool team will arrive with, usually measuring their overall threat in the game.

Arsenal are currently without a large handful of players, key players, who have recently returned to training following their International work over the summer. Their biggest issue lies in central defence, as their first, second, and third choice centre backs are out of contention for Sunday’s game.

The Gunners are left with the option of youth players: Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, and Krystian Bielik. All of which have little-to-no Premier League experience. It’s not a situation that ideally Wenger would want to be in ahead of a game against Liverpool – a team newly rejuvenated by pace.

Liverpool's danger men

The signing of Sadio Mane from Southampton was good business by Liverpool, who - as a club -  have become accustomed to making Southampton their first point of call in the transfer window.

Mane will equip Liverpool with an added burst of pace and strength, and most importantly, a player well adapted to, and familiar with, the league. The Senegalese attacker is almost certain to start for Liverpool, alongside the likes of Brazilian duo, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho.

The three have the potential to change a game, something that they will look to do at the Emirates, with their eyes firmly set upon looking to cause an upset to Arsenal’s fragile central defence.

How do Arsenal resist pressure?

With this in mind, the roles of the deep midfielders – expected to be Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey – will be crucial in covering and breaking up the supply to the terrific trio.

The man in the spotlight for Liverpool will be expected to be Coutinho, as the Brazilian playmaker has flourished in his time on Merseyside, the Gunners will certainly have discussed closing him down and limiting his moments in the game.

Arsenal’s summer signing, Granit Xhaka will be hoping to make a good impression on his new fans, tomorrow would be the time to do so as Liverpool’s midfield is an area of strength.

Sanchez will be eager to start the season well. | Source: Independent
Sanchez will be eager to start the season well. | Source: Independent

Sanchez is key to Arsenal's attacking success

As for Arsenal, being at home for the first game of the season is always a plus. As is having the opposition's first choice goalkeeper unable to play in the fixture.

Newly signed, Loris Karius was injured in pre-season, breaking his hand and forcing him to sit out the starting months of the Premier League campaign. It would be fair to say that second choice keeper – the man to start on Sunday – Simon Mignolet, has lost some trust in the Liverpool fans, as the Belgian 'keeper has unfortunately managed to build a portfolio on his goalkeeping blunders over the last two seasons.

The man in place to lead the line for Arsenal tomorrow is Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean had a busy summer in America, playing for his country in the Copa America tournament, in which he picked up the player of the tournament, also finishing as second highest goal scorer.

Although his favoured position is arguably on the flanks, where he can decide his own fate, due to Arsenal’s lack of striking options, he is expected to be placed as a lone striker.

Whether this will be a success or a work in progress will have to be decided after the game, but the Chilean played in the striker role all summer for his country, so no major problems will be detected on his behalf.

Xhaka will be used to the big-game atmosphere. | Image credit: Getty Images
Xhaka will be used to the big-game atmosphere. | Image credit: Getty Images

A midfield battle that can decide the direction of the game

The midfield will be the key area for Arsenal tomorrow, as it so often is in the Premier League.

The predicted unit of five – two holding and three attacking – will need to be alert and at the top of their game if they are able to keep the three points up for grabs, in London.

While the defensive minded midfielders job is relatively self-explanatory, the attackers will have to work to keep the supply running between the sometimes vulnerably physically small figure of Alexis.

In the absence of Arsenal’s creative controller, Mesut Özil, things will not be as simple going forward, as his eye for creating a scoring chance is always missed when he is not on the field.

The role of Aaron Ramsey will be vital because of this, the Welshman should ideally act as a pivoting cog between defence and attack, keeping the turnover efficient and avoiding the risk of the attackers isolating Alexis, with the chance of playing too deep.

Who will come out on top on Sunday?

There are many points to consider on the first game of the season, especially against an opposition with the quality that Liverpool possess. It will come down to the question of which Arsenal, and which Liverpool turn up. The explosive and tactical heroics of a well prepared side, or the complacent and monotonous that can regularly be seen in both.

If both teams perform to the top standard expected of them, spectators will be in for a real treat, as clashes like these rarely fail to live up to expectations.