Liverpool vs Arsenal
K/O: 17: 30
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Despite all 20 Premier League sides having only played two games thus far, just two have won both of their opening matches, and it is these two sides which do battle at Anfield on Saturday evening. Neither side have looked exceptional in their first two fixtures, yet both sets of fans will be happy enough with the starts to the season their respective teams have had.
Liverpool produced a dominant first-half display against Norwich on the first day of the Premier League season before coasting to a 4-1 victory. Most recently, they scraped past a spirited Southampton side on the south coast, grinding out a 2-1 win.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have produced one-goal victories in each of their Premier League games this season against Newcastle and Burnley. Both Jurgen Klopp and Unai Emery will be expecting more from their players ahead of this weekend’s standout fixture.
History has been kind to the hosts in this fixture in recent years. The last three times the two sides have played at Anfield in the Premier League have seen results of 5-1, 4-0 and 3-1 in favour of the Merseysiders. Roberto Firmino has scored in all four of his home games against Arsenal, Sadio Mane in all three of his home games against Arsenal and Mo Salah in both of his two home games against Arsenal. The omens do not look good for the Gunners.
Arsenal will be determined to stop their Anfield rot on Saturday evening and they can draw a lot of positives from their performance against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium last season, when they more than matched the Reds, who at the time were going toe-to-toe with Manchester City for the Premier League title.
The travelling Gooners will be hopeful of a repeat display, avoiding the weak, tepid away performances that have hampered Arsenal on the road in recent years.
Adrian will continue to deputise for Alisson in the Liverpool goal, with the Brazilian stopper set to be out for another few weeks at least. Joel Matip will partner Virgil van Dijk in the heart of defence, and that front three picks itself.
Klopp’s only selection headache will come in midfield. With Jordan Henderson and Fabinho likely to start, it will probably be between Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for that last starting berth.
Arsenal’s new signing Dani Ceballos excelled in his first start for the North Londoners last weekend against Burnley, and he is likely to start ahead of Mesut Ozil at Anfield on Saturday evening.
It would be naïve of Emery to start Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reiss Nelson away to a team unbeaten at home in the league in over two years, so expect an extra midfield general to play alongside Mateo Guendouzi in an attempt to stop Liverpool’s free-flowing attack – Granit Xhaka if fit.
However, new Summer signing Pepe could make his full debut on Saturday evening. David Luiz and Sokratis will be tasked with halting the excellent record of Liverpool’s front three against Arsenal.
Predicted Starting XIs
Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Aubameyang, Ceballos, Pepe; Lacazette.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
It can be fully expected that both teams will score, but Liverpool’s attack should simply have too much for Arsenal, especially in front of the Anfield crowd in full voice.