Liverpool v Arsenal Preview

Everything you need to know ahead of Liverpool's greatly important match against Arsenal on Saturday.

Callum Rice-Coates

Liverpool host Arsenal on Saturday looking to continue their impressive form at Anfield and maintain their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

The title is beginning to seem like a real possibility for the Reds, and a win against Unai Emery’s visitors this weekend would be another significant statement.

This game precedes a trip to the Etihad to play Manchester City, so victory for Liverpool would be a significant statement. Arsenal, though, will make things difficult. They are not as fragile as they once were and could cause problems at Anfield.

This is the first of several big games for Liverpool, who have established themselves as the team to beat in the Premier League this season.

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Liverpool are, of course, yet to lose in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s side are on a run of eight successive league wins and have been imperious at Anfield. The task for Arsenal, then, is a daunting one.

Only one team has managed to avoid defeat at Liverpool: Manchester City earned a 0-0 draw in October. And only two teams – Cardiff and Manchester United – have scored a goal at Anfield.

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For Arsenal, there has been an improvement under Emery. But they are still plagued by inconsistency, particularly away from home.

The Gunners’ 1-1 draw at Brighton on Boxing Day left them two points behind fourth placed Chelsea and 13 behind leaders Liverpool. They have gone three games away from home without winning, drawing at Old Trafford and falling to a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Southampton.

The main concern for Emery ahead of Saturday’s game will be his side’s clear defensive vulnerabilities. Arsenal have conceded 16 goals in nine away games so far this campaign, and they come up against a Liverpool side in excellent goalscoring form. An improvement in that department is essential.


Klopp is likely to continue with the 4-2-3-1 system that has proved so effective in recent weeks. The front four of Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are a menace, as Newcastle discovered to their detriment on Boxing Day.

In midfield, Liverpool have enviable options. Fabinho, who has been impressive of late, was introduced from the bench against Newcastle, while Naby Keita was an unused substitute.

The Reds will look to suffocate Arsenal, to deny them any space in which to play their fluid football. Liverpool are not a defensive team, but they have become unerringly adept at restricting their opposition.

Emery, meanwhile, has experimented with a three at the back system this season, although most recently has fielded something more closely resembling a midfield diamond to solidify the centre of the pitch and play both of his strikers — Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — at the same time. Clean sheets have been hard to come by for the Gunners, and the Spaniard is clearly attempting to address that.

Against Brighton, Arsenal appeared disjointed. Mesut Ozil was withdrawn at half-time and there appeared to be a reliance on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to produce something in the second half.

A far more cohesive performance will be required on Saturday.

Key Players

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool: Salah took a little while to get going this season, but he is now back to his best. Any criticism has been forgotten; the question now is whether he can replicate his prolific rate of scoring last season.

Salah has the most goals (12) and most assists (seven) of any Liverpool player this season. He has been involved in 35 goals in 28 games at Anfield since joining the club (25 goals and ten assists). And he has six goals in his last five games in all competitions.

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Arsenal will need to keep him quiet if they are to leave with anything on Saturday.

Lucas Torreira, Arsenal: The diminutive Uruguayan has been one of the signings of the season. He has slotted seamlessly into Arsenal’s midfield, providing a level of aggression and tenacity they have lacked for some time.

He is composed on the ball, too, and capable of contributing in the final third. Most importantly, though, Torreira is able to marshal in front of the defence and deny attacking players space.

His performance will be crucial at Anfield.

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