Two of Premier League’s six biggest clubs went one goal up in their respective games this weekend. But both then conceded unnecessary goals to achieve disappointing results in those games. For Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp felt that the draw against Burnley at home was like a defeat, while for Arsenal, it was an actual defeat against Tottenham Hotspur. This Wednesday night, the two teams with hurt pride will face each other as the Gunners host the Reds.
The defeat to then 11th placed Spurs, would have wounded Arsenal’s pride as it was a North London Derby and it was one more defeat to Jose Mourinho. But, Mikel Arteta’s men have several other reasons for feeling disappointed. The fact that with 50 points after 35 games they languish in 9th spot, one below the now 8th Spurs and one above (on GD) Burnley is extremely disappointing for the Arsenal faithful. With three games remaining a top four spot is all but out of reach. However, three consecutive wins, with some favorable results elsewhere might put them in reach of Europa League spots. However, Arteta might be plotting to reach that same competition through the FA Cup winners route. With the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City coming up on the weekend, it might be possible that the Gunners throw in the towel in the league and push with all their might in the cup.
Liverpool have exactly one target to achieve – 101 points. They fluffed their chances of reaching 103 by letting Burnley take charge at Anfield and leave with a draw on Saturday. However, the Champions can still reach the three-figure mark – if they win all three remaining games. Although that will be fairly challenging as after facing the Gunners in London, they face Chelsea at home and Newcastle away in the last two games. It is also important for Klopp’s men to make sure they keep their momentum up. The next season will be here before long and the German will want his side to make an emphatic statement before that happens. These last three games represent a chance to do exactly that.
- Arsenal are winless in their last nine Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D4 L5) since a 4-1 victory at the Emirates in April 2015. They have also conceded more goals against Liverpool (90) in the Premier League, than any other side in the competition. In their entire League history, the Gunners have conceded more goals against only Manchester United (305), than they have versus Liverpool (285).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last four Premier League away games against Arsenal, though three of these have ended level (W1). But their form since the restart has been nowhere close to the form that handed them the title. They have failed to win three of their six Premier League matches (W3 D2 L1), while they failed to win only twice in the past 38 games (W36 D1 L1).
- Since Arteta tool charge in December, Arsenal have dropped more points from winning positions than any other Premier League team (15). His counterpart on the other hand, is unbeaten in his eight Premier League games against Arsenal (W5 D3), with the Reds netting 26 goals in those games.
- Liverpool have won their last five Premier League games in London, including all four this season. They last won 100% of their top-flight games in the capital in a single season back in 1932-33, when Arsenal and Chelsea were the only London sides in the division.
Lacazette has scored two goals in his last three Premier League appearances, as many as in his previous 14. However, he has scored these two away from home, after a run of 10 consecutive Premier League goals at the Emirates. Arteta would want the Frenchman to shine and with an xG90 of 0.43 and xA90 of 0.16, he has a very good chance of adding a goal – his 10th of the season, or an assist – his 4th of the season. Liverpool’s defence has shown cracks in recent away games and even the home game against Burnley and Lacazette will be eager to make the best of their dip in form.
Salah likes to play against Arsenal. He has been involved in eight goals in six Premier League games against the Gunners (6 goals 2 assists). Since the restart as well, he has scored 3 and assisted 3 in six games. His xG90 of 0.64 and xA90 of 0.28 indicate a great chance for the Egyptian to notch up his 20th goal of the season – a feat that would result in him scoring 20+ goals in three consecutive seasons – something that a Red has not achieved since Roger Hunt in 1960s. He and his manager, both would like it a lot if he achieved that record against the Gunners on Wednesday night.
For Arsenal, Ozil and Guendouzi are unlikely to play anymore as they have fallen out of favor. The Gunners will also be without the injured Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah. Bukayo Saka who only made the bench against Spurs on Sunday might start in place of Nicolas Pepe. However, if Arteta prioritizes winning the FA Cup over a fight for the Europa League places, then he might rest Aubameyang for the clash against Manchester City in the semi-finals on the weekend.
For Liverpool, Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson are out for the season. James Milner has picked up a muscle niggle, while Dejan Lovren might not be able to make the starting XI. However, Naby Keita and Trent Alexander-Arnold should return to the starting XI. Given his strong reaction to the draw at home against Burnley, Jurgen Klopp might start his best available XI on Wednesday.
While Liverpool have broken their poor away streak with a win against Brighton last weekend, Arsenal can be a handful at the Emirates. However, the Gunners might have their eyes on the FA Cup semi-final on the weekend and hence might make it easier for the Reds to inch towards the 100 point mark.
Arsenal 1 – 2 Liverpool