Arsenal vs Liverpool Preview: Gunners looking to avenge heavy defeat to the Reds in top-four battle

Arsenal will hope to end a run of three straight defeats to Liverpool and make amends for the 4-0 thrashing suffered against the Reds in August when they face each other again in the Premier League on Friday.

Arsenal vs Liverpool Preview: Gunners looking to avenge heavy defeat to the Reds in top-four battle
(Picture: Getty Images - David Price)

Arsenal will look to avenge their thumping defeat at the hands of Liverpool earlier this season and leapfrog their top-four rivals in the Premier League table when they go head-to-head on Friday night.

The meetings between the two teams proved crucial last season as Liverpool won both and finished one point ahead of the Gunners in fourth to claim the prize of Champions League qualification.

The Reds extended their winning run over Arséne Wenger's charges with an emphatic 4-0 thrashing at Anfield in late August. 

And with this clash representing the season's half-way mark and still just one point separating the two sides in the table, again Liverpool in fourth and Arsenal sat fifth, this clash could once again prove pivotal in the season's standings in May. The hosts can jump into fourth with a win.

The pair will undoubtedly be disappointed by the gaping chasm between them and league leaders Manchester City, 18 and 19 points, with yet another campaign consigned to a top-four battle.

But with City and Manchester United almost assured of first and second already, and Chelsea boasting a four-point cushion in third, both teams will look to lay down a marker here.

The Reds have not lost since their last visit to North London in late October, suffering a heavy defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, and have gone 12 games unbeaten - winning eight of those - in the league and Champions League since.

Meanwhile Arsenal have not lost any of their last five and booked their place in the final four of the League Cup earlier this week, beating West Ham United 1-0.

Arsenal side have made the Emirates a difficult place to go and have won 13 of their last 14 home league games, though Manchester United's high-tempo counter-attacking win there earlier this month will fill the visitors with hope of producing something similar.

Liverpool claimed a thrilling 4-3 win in their opening day clash with Arsenal in the capital last August, but have claimed just two wins on their last 21 visits to the Gunners in league and cup competitions.

The last time they claimed back-to-back away wins over Arsenal was well back in November 1997, but their excellent form on the road - winning all of their last four in the league, scoring 16 goals - ensures that this particular meetings hangs finely in the balance.

Both sides are capable of exposing the other's frailties, each team's defence vulnerable on occasion, and so it is arguably as difficult as ever to predict which side will come out on top. 

This showdown also sees two sides under scrutiny for their form against top-tier opposition this term.

Liverpool were hammered by Spurs and thrashed at City, drawing at home to United and Chelsea, while they squandered a three-goal lead in their most difficult European fixture away at Sevilla. That is a stark contrast to their imperious form against their close rivals last season.

Meanwhile Arsenal - who have tended to struggle in the high-profile league clashes of recent years - have only earned one point from four fixtures against the teams above them this season, though did win the North London derby last month.

With so much seemingly resting on it, this latest incarnation of a classic top-flight rivalry suggests it could be another memorable one. With eight of their last 11 meetings producing at least four of them, expect goals.

 

Team news

Arsenal will be without striker Olivier Giroud after he picked up a hamstring injury in the first half of their cup quarter-final win over West Ham on Tuesday night.

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey is also out with a hamstring injury and is not expected to feature again until the New Year, while Santi Cazorla remains on the sidelines having not played since October 2016.

Francis Coquelin should be available despite limping off against the Hammers late on with cramp while defender Shkodran Mustafi should be back from a thigh problem.

Centre-back Joël Matip - absent for the last five games - and striker Daniel Sturridge - who has not featured since the win over Spartak Moscow - are doubts due to a thigh injury and illness respectively.

Left-back Alberto Moreno is still well away from full fitness due to an ankle injury, with right-back Nathaniel Clyne yet to make an appearance this season with a troublesome back issue. Emre Can is available after a one-match suspension.

Winger Mohamed Salah, who scored his 20th goal of the season last time out, is fit despite missing a mid-week training session - the Egyptian merely rested to avoid fatigue.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will hope to face his former club for the first time since a £35 million move to Merseyside in late August, having impressed against the Cherries at the weekend.

Alexis Sánchez, Granit Xhaka and Dejan Lovren are all at risk of facing one-match bans if they pick up a booking.

 

Recent form (all competitions)

Arsenal: WDDWW

Liverpool: WWDDW

Latest result

Arsenal 1-0 West Ham United (League Cup)

Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool (Premier League)

 

Match facts

Arsenal have lost their last three Premier League meetings with Liverpool and have not lost four in a row since May 1998.

There have been 17 goals scored in the 90th minute or later in this Premier League fixture, more than in any other.

Liverpool have scored at least three goals in each of their four Premier League matches against Arsenal under Jürgen Klopp, netting 14 goals in total.

Liverpool became the first team in top-flight history to win four consecutive away games by a margin of at least three goals with their victory at Bournemouth.

The Reds have scored as many away goals in the league this season as Manchester City (24).

Arsenal have scored in 23 consecutive Premier League home matches since a 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough in October 2016.

Petr Cech is one clean sheet away from becoming the first goalkeeper to record 200 shut-outs in the Premier League. 

Jack Wilshere could start three consecutive Premier League matches for Arsenal for the first time since September-October 2014.

Philippe Coutinho has scored eight goals and set up another seven in his last 10 away games for Liverpool.

Sadio Mané has scored in each of his last three league games against Arsenal. Only four players have scored in at least four consecutive Premier League games against the Gunners: Tomasz Radzinski and Peter Beardsley (four), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Harry Kane (five).

Referee

Experienced referee Martin Atkinson is the man in the middle at the Emirates.

The 46-year-old will oversee his 13th Premier League fixture of the season, having issued red cards in all of his last three matches and in four games overall this term.

He officiated Liverpool's draw with Manchester United and a win at Stoke City last month, but has not been the referee in a fixture involving Arsenal since a win over West Ham in April.

Atkinson, whose career highlights include refereeing the finals of the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League, has officiated two previous editions of this fixture - a 2-0 Liverpool win in London in 2011 and Arsenal's 2-0 triumph in 2013.