Two game weeks have gone by in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign and there are only two teams of the twenty that have won both their games. In the third game week, one of them will have to forego the win streak as they go head to head. Liverpool will host Arsenal on Saturday in their first top-six clash of the campaign.
Liverpool come into this game after their narrow escape at St. Mary’s last Saturday. In that game, possibly because of exhaustion from the UEFA Super Cup that was played earlier that week, Liverpool were noticeably under par compared to their general standards. Yet, they managed to sneak in a win. On Saturday however, they face up to Arsenal who will prove far trickier opponents than the Saints. Although the recent head-to-head stats are heavily in Liverpool’s favour, they should be wary of Arsenal’s attack. Jurgen Klopp will hope for a much better performance in the midfield and in defense from his side, as compared to the game at Saints. He will also caution his side from committing any errors that could tilt the balance in favour of the visitors.
Unai Emery’s team has started the season well with a 1-0 away win against Newcastle United, followed by a 2-1 home win against Burnley. In Lacazette and Aubameyang, Arsenal have two of some of the best forwards in the league and they have been great in the first two games, giving the club-record signing Nicolas Pepe to settle in more easily. Emery will be confident of his forward line testing Liverpool’s defence. However, he will hope that his defence has a better game on Saturday than the one against Burnley.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight matches against Arsenal in all competitions (W4 D4). They have not had a run comparable to this since February 2000. On the other hand, Arsenal are without a win in their last six league visits to Anfield (W0 D2 L4), conceding two or more goals in each match (22 in total).
- This will be the 55th Premier League fixture between these two sides. No other Premier League fixture has seen more goals than this one – 155 goals in 54 games. This fixture has also seen the most number of hat-tricks (6 in total).
- Anfield has generally been unfavourable to the Gunners. Arsenal have lost 13 Premier League away games versus Liverpool. They have lost more only at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
- Liverpool have won 11 consecutive Premier League matches, equaling their best-ever winning streak in the competition, previously set between February and April 2014 under Brendan Rodgers. Victory on Saturday will see Liverpool equal their longest winning run in league competition (12 wins set between April to October 1990). Liverpool have also gone 41 Premier League games without defeat at Anfield (W31 D10), a run lasting two years and 123 days since Sam Allardyce’s West Ham beat them 1-2 in 2017.
- Arsenal meanwhile, will be looking to win their first three games of a top-flight season for the ninth time in their history and for the first time since 2004-05.
Firmino loves playing against Arsenal. He has scored more Premier League goals against Arsenal than he has against any other side (8 in 8 games). He has netted in all four of his Premier League appearances against Arsenal at Anfield, scoring 7 goals and assisting 2. He is also just one goal away from becoming the first Brazilian in the Premier League to score 50 league goals. Jurgen Klopp will fervently hope for Firmino to achieve this landmark on Saturday. Firmino’s xG per 90 of 0.70 and xA per 90 of 0.18 indicate that there is a pretty good chance of that happening.
Unlike Firmino, Aubameyang does not have an exceptional record against Top Six sides, scoring three goals in 13 Premier League games against them, averaging a goal every 356 minutes In games against non-Top Six sides, he has scored 31 times in 38 games, averaging a goal every 94 minutes. However, as his two goals for Gunners this season show, he has the potential to hurt Liverpool’s defence, especially if they commit any errors or if they are slow to the ball. Aubameyang’s xG90 of 0.46 and xA90 of 0.06 indicate a fifty-fifty chance of him contributing a goal on Saturday.
For Liverpool, Adrian will continue in place of the injured Alisson. Dejan Lovren and Naby Keita are doubts but they will be back up even if available. Joel Matip and Joe Gomez will compete for the 2nd central defender’s spot beside VVD. Fabinho and Henderson will likely return to the starting lineup, alongside one of Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner. Possible Liverpool starting lineup for Saturday: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Mane, Firmino.
For Arsenal, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil have both recovered from their respective injuries and ailments. While Xhaka may make the starting lineup, Ozil will most likely start on the bench. Club-record signing Nicolas Pepe could also start on Saturday. Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson have been surprise starters in Arsenal’s first two league matches but both youngsters will likely start this game on the bench.
Liverpool’s recent ascendancy in this fixture, their current form and the fact that the game is at Anfield, means the Reds should be able to beat the Gunners on Saturday.
Liverpool 3 – 1 Arsenal
Past performance may not be a real pointer to the outcome on Saturday. Apart from a not so good defence at arsenal, there are improvements and confidence going forward with the arsenal team. This might be a draw.