The Premier League’s top two coming into the weekend face off on Saturday (20:30 UAE) in a high-voltage fixture, from which both will be aiming to extend perfect records this season.
Liverpool host Arsenal following a 2-1 win at Southampton in which they had to work hard for all three points. The Gunners overcame Burnley at home with the same scoreline after Dani Ceballos inspired them with a remarkable show in midfield.
Which team will prevail in the top-of-the-table clash? We take a look at the talking points:
Liverpool look to maintain unblemished record
The Reds have dominated the north London club in recent times.
Their current unbeaten run stretches over eight games, across all competitions.
When the two teams met at Anfield last season, Roberto Firmino ripped through the Arsenal defence to walk away with the match-ball. Liverpool were 5-1 victors in what was one-way traffic, with Arsenal failing to react to first-half carnage.
The hosts had earlier registered 4-0 and 3-1 victories in the two meetings before the onslaught. This means that the Reds enjoy an aggregate of 12-2 over the last three games played between the two sides at Anfield.
This, aided by the fact that Liverpool are on an 11-game winning streak in the Premier League – their best in the competition – means that the hosts are overwhelming favourites and will look to keep up the excellent record.
Aubameyang to back his words with performance?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang claimed that Arsenal’s front-line is comparable to that of Liverpool – one of the deadliest in Europe.
“Pepe and me, we are quick players like Mane and Salah, while Laca is a player who can keep the ball and is really good with his feet like Firmino. So yes, we can say we are close enough,” he told Sky Sports.
Arsenal’s attack is certainly at its peak, with Ligue 1 sensation Nicolas Pepe and Real Madrid loanee Ceballos adding more firepower to the blitzing duo of Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
Aubameyang, a Gabon international, scored in each of Arsenal two games this season and could cause Liverpool a lot of trouble, especially on the counter.
Unai Emery has sparingly used Pepe, but the manager indicated that he could start the former Lille star on Saturday. From what the winger showed during his time in France, Pepe could wear out Andrew Robertson and prevent him from adding much to the attack.
With Arsenal’s attack brimming with quality and Liverpool’s defence displaying unusual cracks, amplified by the injury to goalkeeper Alisson, this could be the Gunners’ best shot at breaking the curse.
A tactical surprise from Emery?
Unai Emery has invariably preferred building from the back at Arsenal, entertaining long strings of possession and striking when most opportune.
This system is most vulnerable to Liverpool’s gegenpressing, as evidenced by their big-margin wins over Barcelona, Manchester City and Arsenal in the last couple of seasons.
It will be interesting to see if Emery sticks to his ideals and risks another poor result or opts for a more direct approach. Ceballos showed against Burnley that there is certain directness associated with his game and he could be Emery’s go-to man, should he go ahead with the tactical shuffle.
However, the former Real Betis starlet will be pitted against Fabinho on Saturday and not Burnley’s Ashley Westwood or Jack Cork. The 25-year-old endured a sorry start to his Liverpool career, but turned it around to grow into a crucial element of their Champions League-winning midfield.
The two players can forge an exciting battle at the centre of the pitch.
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