ARSENAL VS LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, November 3rd |
Premier League | The Emirates
5:30 PM GMT / 1:30 PM EST
There’s a new vibe this season over at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger is no longer the Arsenal manager and Liverpool will be going toe to toe with Unai Emery’s newly-inspired team for the very first time. Under Emery’s management, the Gunners have put together an eight-match unbeaten run and seen themselves into fourth place in the league, just six points behind Liverpool.
The stats tell you that it’s been awhile since Arsenal have beaten the Reds (7 games ago) but the clock has reset for Emery’s Arsenal. They’ve got a mojo cooking. It’s not dynamite yet but the belief is back and Klopp’s players will be up against a fresh and determined side.
But not so fresh that Arsenal’s defensive problems have magically disappeared. Unai Emery will need several transfer windows to sort those out.
Crystal Palace won and converted two penalties against Arsenal last weekend. The Gunners may be putting in goals and getting points on the board but clean sheets have remained difficult to come by. Liverpool’s front three and company should certainly find ways to twist Arsenal’s back line.
Emery will be without Matteo Geundouzi as the midfielder sits out for receiving a red for two yellows in Arsenal’s League Cup win over Blackpool. On the injury front Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac are reportedly maybe available but maybe not. Same for Hector Bellerin. Same for Sokratis.
Basically, it could be a rough night for Shkodran Mustafi.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Shaqiri, Wijnaldum, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Liverpool are unbeaten this season. It sounds braggish to mention that the Reds’ attack hasn’t even been in top gear yet but it’s true.
Defensively, Klopp’s team has been excellent. Alisson is everything we wanted from a goalkeeper and more. Virgil van Dijk is one of the best defenders in the world. Joe Gomez looks on pace to partner the Dutchman on that best-of list in the near future. Dejan Lovren has still been a solid defender for Klopp despite his tendency to do bad things sometimes.
But Liverpool’s effectiveness in the attack and their ruthlessness in front of goal to start this campaign has been subpar compared with last season’s form.
That’s changing, though. Mohamed Salah is getting his groove back and Sadio Mané is as athletically majestic as ever. Liverpool’s aggressive press and counter-attack will be a handful for Unai Emery’s men.
Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita will both sit this one out with hamstring injuries but are expected to return to training by next week. James Milner seems a likely choice in the midfield along with Gini Wijnaldum. But it could be Xherdan Shaqiri or Fabinho for the third spot in the middle of the park depending on Klopp’s preferred tactics on the day.
Fabinho is an option if the manager is wary of Arsenal’s midfield control. But Shaqiri has been a live wire lately and “Der Kraftwürfel” cannot be powered down once activated. Release The Cube.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “It’s not my job to compare Arsenal to last year. It’s about this year. Wenger is one of the best managers in the world and sometimes after a very long time the mood at a club changes. Everybody in football knows how good Emery is.”
Unai Emery: “We are looking at who is in front of us, like Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea. But it’s important for us to think about that at the end. We have to keep working to improve in our way and tactically, to find the best performance.”
Referee: Andre Marriner Assistants: Scott Ledger, Simon Long Fourth official: Michael Oliver
Kickoff is set for 5:30 PM GMT/1:30 PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.