Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield this evening, with the game set to kick off at 5:30pm. Liverpool are currently top of the Premier League table, with a six-point lead over Tottenham and seven over Manchester City, while Arsenal are fifth; trailing Chelsea by two points in the race for the top four. There is a difference of 13 points between Liverpool and Arsenal.
Liverpool could very well be licking their lips at the prospect of facing Arsenal today. The Gunners’ defence haven’t been up to it at all lately, and Liverpool’s potent attack could really take advantage of that. The Reds will be going all out for another win today to ensure they keep their six-point lead at the top of the table, and will be very confident of getting the three points. There’s a chance they’ll hammer Arsenal today, as they’re on a very good run of form.
There have been some big results for Liverpool against Arsenal at Anfield in recent years. Home and away, Liverpool are unbeaten against Arsenal in the last seven games. At Anfield, Arsenal are without a win since September 2012. With Liverpool enjoying 5-1, 3-1 and 4-0 wins during that run, it’s clear that Jurgen Klopp’s men are favourites. They’ll almost certainly batter Arsenal today, who will have to be very good defensively if they’re going to get anything from the game. We haven’t seen Arsenal be very good defensively often, but they will surely up their game for such a big match.
Arsenal enjoyed a long unbeaten run, but have been undone in recent weeks. But, even after a disappointing draw at Brighton on Wednesday, things may feel worse than they actually are. Unai Emery’s team have only lost once in the league since August, so they haven’t been nearly as bad as some may suggest. If they can manage to pick up three points today, they’ll move back into the top four at the expense of Chelsea. They can then feel more positive about things.
The Gunners have been quite good offensively, as they usually are. They’ve scored just two goals less than Liverpool, but it has been their defence that’s been the issue. From their 19 league games, Arsenal have conceded 25 goals, which is far more than their other top four rivals, excluding Manchester United. By comparison, Liverpool have only conceded seven. Having a poor defence to start with, combined with injuries to key players, have given them this problem. When you have to turn to Granit Xhaka to play at centre-back, you know you have problems. Arsenal seriously need to invest in a defender in January, but whether they do that remains to be seen.
Emery can still be praised for how he has done since joining Arsenal, but there are a lot of problems with the team. Not having players good enough to play how he wants them to is a big part of this, and he has to be given time. We have seen how far Liverpool have come under Jurgen Klopp, but that didn’t happen overnight, and Emery will have to be afforded the same patience. When he does manage to bring more players in and put his stamp on the team they’ll improve further.
James Milner misses out for Liverpool today, but they’re doing alright on the injury front otherwise. Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain out, with Dominic Solanke joining them on the injury list. Alberto Moreno is fit.
Arsenal are still without Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin, with Nacho Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi doubts. That obviously leaves them very short at the back, but Laurent Koscielny is likely to be fit. If Emery continues with the back five, we could see something like: Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Koscielny, Xhaka, Kolasinac. Or Ainsley Maitland-Niles may play at right wing-back, with Lichtsteiner playing centrally. But it’s very hard to second-guess Emery’s thinking, because he can be very unpredictable. Maybe he’ll be blessed with the return of some defenders and be able to play players in their natural positions. We’ll see, anyway. There were also some reports of Mesut Ozil having a knee injury, so he may not be involved.
We have seen many very exciting games between these two down the years. There’s usually goals galore in their games, and hopefully we’ll have the same today. Liverpool are clear favourites to win it, and could very well put a few past Arsenal’s shaky defence today. But we’ve seen Arsenal turn up in big games and put in brilliant performances, so maybe there’ll be a surprise for them. Either way, this one should be a very enjoyable watch.
The teams news will be out at 4:30pm, and you’ll get that up here as well. I’ll be watching the game, and there may be some thoughts from me on Twitter. Enjoy the game!