On Sunday August 13th, Arsenal welcome Liverpool to the Emirates Stadium to kick off the Premier League season for these two giants of English football. Arsenal will be looking to finally win the Premier League again after more than a decade away from the Premier League title. Liverpool will be more focused on trying to get back to the Champions League in their first full season with Jurgen Klopp at the helm.
With the top of the Premier League looking more like a top six than a top four, slip ups could be more costly than in past years. Neither team will think they can afford an opening day loss.
Liverpool have a few injuries to deal with before the season has even got underway. Daniel Sturridge is dealing with a hip problem, but is back in training and is reportedly racing to regain fitness for the match at the Emirates. Marko Grujic is in a similar situation after he suffered an ankle injury over the weekend at Mainz. He has also returned to training, but his status for the Arsenal game is unknown. On top of that, James Milner and Lucas Leiva are both struggling to regain fitness for Arsenal, while new goalkeeper Loris Karius, Mamadou Sakho, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez are all out.
Liverpool are not alone in their injury woes, Arsenal have some too, specifically at centerback. Both Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista have picked up long term injuries in the last month. Both will miss the Liverpool game, as will Laurent Koscielny who is still out after his exploits with France this summer. Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud will also miss out after their performances at the Euros. Danny Welbeck will also miss out as he continues to recover from his long term knee injury.
Three of the last six Premier League meetings between these two at the Emirates have ended in draws. Liverpool’s last win at the Emirates was in August of 2011. The fixture computer seems to love this fixture early in the season, this fixture has taken place in August in three of the last six seasons.
Arsenal have lost only one of their last nine Premier League games against Liverpool. The two teams have averaged 4.1 goals per game in their last five meetings.
Arsenal : Alexis Sanchez
With Mesut Ozil not yet ready to play, Alexis Sanchez will take the burden of being Arsenal’s superstar for the time being. The Chilean has been involved in 41 Premier League goals since he joined two years ago, more than any other Arsenal player. Sanchez turned down Liverpool to join Arsenal and it has turned out to be vital for the Gunners success in the last two years. The Chilean has the ability to turn a game on its head at any given moment, and Arsenal will need that ability while they wait for Ozil to come back.
Liverpool: Roberto Firmino
While Liverpool missed out on Sanchez two years ago, they were able to recruit Roberto Firmino last summer and that has proved to be a hugely impactful signing. After a slow start in the Premier League, Firmino finished his first season with 10 league goals and seven league assists. His goal contribution along with his ability to press has made him one of the first names on the team sheet for Jurgen Klopp.
This is possibly the toughest game of the week to predict. Arsenal’s patchwork defense gives Liverpool every chance to win the game. The Gunners do have a good recent record against Liverpool, with only one loss in their last nine meetings, and they have the attacking talent to cause Liverpool’s subpar defense problems of their own.
Prediction : 1-1 Draw