When Arsenal play Liverpool, the neutrals enjoy the spectacle more than the fans on both sides because both teams are set up to score loads of goals and also concede, if recent history is taken into account.
The Reds start like a house on fire while the Gunners come to boil gradually.
It took a late penalty for Crystal Palace to snap Arsenal’s 11-game winning run last weekend and in that sequence, Arsenal scored 75 per cent of their goals in the second half while Liverpool have scored about 70 per cent of their league goals in the first half.
In the last five meetings between Arsenal and Liverpool, 27 goals–that is an average of five goals a game. There should not be a clear departure from this norm on Saturday.
Arsenal have scored 18 goals in their last six matches and were last defeated 12 matches ago while Liverpool have improved on the defensive side – conceding just four goals, though that defensive tightening has slightly taken away from a rambunctious attacking blitz.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have scored just 11 goals in their last six matches and he must be wary of Arsenal’s current penchant of turning it on in the second half. If Unai Emery’s side goes about the first halves of matches like the second half, they will become serious contenders for the EPL crown.
Liverpool will be without Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita while Arsenal are harder hit as they will miss Matteo Guendouzi, who got a red card against Bristol City in a Carabao fixture last Wednesday and have a retinue of fullbacks on the treatment table – Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, and Nacho Monreal while centre-back, Sokratis
Three Duels to watch
Granit Xhaka v Mohamed Salah
Drafted into the left-back position, Xhaka will have his hands full with an improving Salah. The Switzerland captain needs to keep his concentration at all times and be wary of the incisive cross passing from the Egyptian. Salah is scoring regularly and will be a constant threat
Alexandre Lacazette v Virgil van Dijk
Since Van Dijk joined the Reds in January, their defensive displays have greatly improved and so have the goal scoring fortunes increased with Lacazette at the top of the tree. This should be a riveting contest if Emery starts Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as part of Arsenal’s front three.
Lucas Torreira v Roberto Firmino
The steel and the passing of Torreira from Arsenal’s midfield base have been one of the fundamental improvements to this Arsenal side and the nippy Uruguayan will be minding Firmino on Saturday. The nifty Brazilian is the fulcrum on which Salah and Sadio Mane can operate so effectively. Shut him down and Arsenal’s defenders will have a respite.
“This team [Liverpool] three seasons ago, they were playing in the final of the Europa League. Their development was to last season play in the final of the Champions League. For us, it’s a good example of how you can improve.” – Unai Emery, Arsenal Manager
“We are in a good place but we go to Arsenal and if everything depends on winning at Arsenal or not, if that means we are in a good place or not, then something is wrong. I cannot judge week in, week out. That’s why I say so far, so good. We don’t feel satisfaction. We don’t feel: ‘Wow! We are really good.” – Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool Manager
Arsenal: Leno; Xhaka, Holding, Mustafi, Lichtsteiner; Ramsey, Torreira; Aubameyang, Ozil, Iwobi; Lacazette
Liverpool: Alisson; Robertson, Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Fabinho; Mane, Shaqiri, Salah; Firmino
Current Form: Arsenal [D-W-W-W-W]; Liverpool [W-W-W-D-L]
Head to head
22/12/17 PRL Arsenal 3 – 3 Liverpool
27/08/17 PRL Liverpool 4 – 0 Arsenal
04/03/17 PRL Liverpool 3 – 1 Arsenal
14/08/16 PRL Arsenal 3 – 4 Liverpool
13/01/16 PRL Liverpool 3 – 3 Arsenal
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool