Arsenal vs Liverpool Match Preview

by - August 27, 2017

All eyes will be on Anfield on Sunday at 4:00 PM as Arsenal travel to take on Liverpool for the first time since The Reds pipped them to 4th place and a Champions League berth. While I am of the opinion that this is a blessing in disguise for Arsenal, as The Gunners can win a European trophy this season instead of facing an 8th straight round of 16 knockout, reality has certainly hit home, with the UEFA Europa League draw seeing Arsenal take on BATE Borisov, Cologne and former European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade. The draw could have been kinder to Arsenal fans in terms of travel, however in terms of difficulty, The Gunners could make several changes throughout the group stage and still comfortably top the group.
Liverpool can also be happy with their Champions League draw after dispatching German outfit Hoffenheim 6-3 on aggregate , with Sevilla (who, in fairness, did beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Europa League final in 2016), Spartak Moscow and NK Maribok being comparatively less daunting than many other potential draws, although it is worth noting, that Liverpool failed to qualify from the group stages in 2014/15, in a group with Real Madrid, Basel and Ludogorets, where they recorded 1 fortunate win. Liverpool, however, under Jurgen Klopp should seal second place at the very least.

As for Sunday's game, a lot depends on what teams are selected. If Arsenal set up with a similar back 3, they will be beaten. For me, the return of Laurent Koscielny is essential, and Wenger must also play Per Mertesacker. Arsenal's back 3 is disorganised at the best of times, let alone against an attack as dynamic, quick and intense as Liverpool's, Mertesacker's experience will be crucial, and Arsenal will have to play "like an underdog", i.e. with a deep block, to avoid defeat. As Liverpool do not have an out and out striker or CDM, this often nullifies Liverpool, as we see in games against "smaller teams" and against Manchester United last season, the one team in the top 7 Liverpool failed to beat (2D, 0-0 and 1-1). Liverpool starting an out and out striker would have been essential in this game if Arsenal chose that approach, such as Christian Benteke, however, with Arsene Wenger at the helm, even if he starts Per Mertesacker, I do not see The Gunners keeping a clean sheet or getting a result at Anfield, as he has demonstrated an inability, time and time again, to organise a defence. Arsenal have the better players all around and better defensive personnel, however, they have a defence who is very susceptible to an aggressive pressing style, as well as Granit Xhaka, who plays as a deep lying playmaker (without a recognised CDM next to him), who has shown discomfort when having any sort of pressure put on him in possession. Arsenal would be well advised to play someone like Coquelin or Elneny next to Ramsey, as well as starting Giroud in this game, to expose Liverpool's defensive woes, especially from set pieces. However, in their current set - up, I only see one winner.

Prediction: Liverpool to win and both teams to score.

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