In a game which sees the only two teams in the Premier League with perfect records on the line, Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday at 5:30pm BST. In the past, this fixture has been nothing short of goals, drama and excitement. With both teams being known for their attacking prowess, this upcoming fixture promises no less.
So far, Arsenal at home is the biggest match of our young season, even after the Super Cup tie against Chelsea in Istanbul. Although it is far too early to start talking about chasing the title and who is competing or not, the past two seasons have proven that every point matters. Last season we missed out on the title by a single point. A point that may not have seemed too important at the start of the season if it was to be dropped. But look how crucial it turned out to be.
Arsenal will of course be looking to be a part of the title race this season especially after investing in their squad so heavily over the summer transfer window. The additions of Pepe and Ceballos have already seen to be promising and great pieces of business. But again, it is far too early to tell if these new players can give Arsenal the edge to compete in the title race.
For Arsenal, defence has always been an inherent issue in the squad as year after year they are faced with having an incredible attack yet a fragile defence. The addition of Kieran Tierney and David Luiz are both obvious improvements from Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi but with Tierney still injured and Luiz still finding his feet it is difficult to tell how game changing these additions will be.
What makes this Arsenal team frightening though is their two strikers, Aubameyang and Lacazette. We all know that Aubameyang shared the Golden Boot last season with our own Mane and Salah which is all the proof we need to justify his quality. His winning goal against Burnley was an example of his lethalness when given too much space.
Focussing now on Liverpool, we see our first test against our credentials as back-to-back title contenders. After a far from comfortable win against Southampton at St Marys, we saw the Reds put to the test in a real Premier League battle. We saw moments were our midfield was simply being out-passed and outplayed in what can only be put down to as a “European hangover” after our mid-week tie against Chelsea. We looked lacklustre and definitely did not play like European Champions. With that said though, it was a professional win. A win that not many teams would have pulled off after the cram of early season fixtures which we have already suffered from. To go to St Marys in the state we were in and to take all three points says a lot about the mentality of this team. “Mentality giants” as described by Jurgen Klopp. Unai Emry himself admitted earlier in the week that he’d be happy if his side never had to face Liverpool all season. Coming from a manager of his calibre and from a team the size of Arsenal, such a statement says a lot about the power of this LFC squad.
After a whole week between fixtures it is assumed that Klopp will restore all rested players from the Southampton game back into the first team. This should see the reintegration of Fabinho and Henderson into the midfield three with Wijnaldum the likely candidate to be the one to push forward. Based on form and pure trust of their quality, our front three of Mane, Firmino and Salah definitely pick themselves.
What makes our front three incredible is the reliance the entire team can have on any of the three at any time. At Southampton we saw Salah struggle to get close to scoring while Firmino and Mane were running riot against the Saints’ defence. This simple fact makes our attack the best in Europe and that was proven over the course of last season and that quality is evidently still burning.
With the small exception of a horrendous mistake in goals to allow Danny Ings in for a tap-in, Adrian has been the near perfect understudy for Alisson. He obviously doesn’t attain the same qualities as Alisson with the ball at his feet although when it comes to making saves and being in the right position, Adrian has been immense. He will face the ultimate test on Saturday against Arsenal when he is asked to keep out shots from their strike team, especially that of Aubameyang who is arguably Arsenal’s best striker since the departure of Robin Van Persie. He will of course be aided by our flawless Van Dijk and Co who look to continue their solidity in defence against the Gunners.
Aside from the large gap in quality when comparing Liverpool’s defence with that of Arsenal’s, there is not much to split the two teams this season with regard to quality across the rest of the park. It can be argued that Liverpool’s midfield is also slightly stronger since the addition of Fabinho last season but the true similarities are in the attack. What will standout the most though on Saturday is Anfield. With our recent success in Europe and our first top 6 opponent for the season I expect Anfield to be completely rocking. The noise and atmosphere of our home has proven to be key in big ties in the past, notably against Barcelona in the Champions League semi final last season.
With a well rested Liverpool squad backed by the power of Anfield and our impressive home record over the past two seasons, I don’t see why this should be anything but a win. It will be far from an easy match and the Reds will surely be pushed until the final whistle, but the Reds definitely have it in them to take all three points from this match.
Come on Reds!!
Let us know your line up and score predictions in the comments!