Due to the fact it is Christmas week, we’re having to write this preview of Saturday’s huge game at Anfield well in advance of usual, so we’re not able to bring you the latest tables, due to the double set of fixtures being played the weekend of the 22nd/23rd December and then the Boxing Day fixtures which preceded this weekend’s games.
With another set of games scheduled to take place from the 1st January to the 3rd, culminating in that huge clash at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester where the two title favourites Liverpool and Manchester City will lock horns, this is the third in a series of four games in the space of around 12 or 13 days for the teams.
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Before we take a closer look at the game at Anfield, let’s now preview the other games taking place in the Premier League this weekend.
- Watford v Newcastle
- Brighton v Everton
- Tottenham v Wolves
- Fulham v Huddersfield
- Leicester v Cardiff
- Liverpool v Arsenal
- Crystal Palace v Chelsea
- Southampton v Man City
- Burnley v West Ham
- Man Utd v Bournemouth
There’s some intriguing games to enjoy over the weekend including tricky away games for both Chelsea and Manchester City, while Tottenham will be wary of how Wolves will approach their clash at Wembley. The Fulham v Huddersfield clash is a relegation six-pointer, which both teams will feel they must win in order to improve their chances of staying up.
But there’s no denying that the big game of the weekend is Liverpool facing Arsenal at Anfield. The teams met at the Emirates earlier in the season where James Milner have Liverpool a second-half lead only for Alexander Lacazette to net a late equaliser for Arsenal, with the visitors having spurned a couple of good chances beforehand.
Let’s now take a closer look at this game and how we think it will go.
Liverpool v Arsenal – Preview
Liverpool have enjoyed one of their best ever seasons so far with a stunning run, (up until Matchday 18 at least) that has seen the club emerge as a genuine title contender and viewed by many as the only possible team that could catch Manchester City.
Jurgen Klopp’s team were not at their fluid best early on in the campaign, and they relied on their defence a great deal in the first few months of the season, to secure some very valuable wins.
It should also be pointed out they have had their fair share of luck. Riyad Mahrez firing a penalty over the bar late on at Anfield was one such time and Divock Origi’s late late winner in the derby against Everton thanks to a Jordan Pickford misjudgement was another. However, they have rode that luck well and just seem to be kicking into another gear in an attacking sense, an ominous threat for the teams round and about them.
Arsenal are one of those teams hoping to close the gap and Unai Emery has done a good job with the Gunners in his first season in charge. The Spaniard has brought a touch of Latin passion to the team which was very pragmatic and predictable under Wenger in his last few seasons and it has worked well for them.
They do have problems in defence where injuries to key men has seen them struggle at times and they are still not fully comfortable with how the Spaniard wants them to play out from the back. That could be a real struggle for them at Anfield where Liverpool’s high press could put the Arsenal back line and keeper under massive amounts of pressure.
However, in their favour is the speed and threat posed by their attackers, notably Aubameyang, who has scored at Anfield in the past for Borussia Dortmund and Lacazette, who scored when the teams met at the Emirates Stadium back in October.
How will the teams line up?
It’s hard to predict how the teams will line up as injuries, rotation or suspensions could play a key role in some players missing out, but here’s my best guess for how the two teams will line up at Anfield at the end of the month.
Liverpool – 4-3-3
- Gk – Alisson
- Dr – Alexander-Arnold
- Dl – Robertson
- Dc – Van Dijk
- Dc – Lovren
- Mc – Henderson
- Mc – Fabinho
- Mc – Wijnaldum
- AMr – Sane
- AMl – Salah
- Ac – Firmino
There are a number of possible changes that could be made in this team, Clyne could play at right back and if Gomes is back, he could slot in alongside Van Dijk. Milner could play in midfield, with Shaqiri an option in place of Fabinho or Henderson if Klopp wants a more attacking team.
Arsenal – 5-4-1
- Gk – Leno
- DMr – Bellerin
- DMl – Monreal
- Dc – Koscielny
- Dc – Mustafi
- Dc – Papastathopoulos
- Mc – Torreira
- Mc – Xhaka
- Mc – Guendouzi
- AMc – Mkihtaryan
- Ac – Aubameyang
The Gunners could play Lacazette in attack and drop Guendouzi to the bench in what would be a more attack minded team, but I feel the more likely changes are to be in defence where Kolasinac could come in for Monreal at left back or he could also play at centre back should Papasthatopoulos not be fully fit.
How will the Liverpool v Arsenal game go?
Without the benefit of knowing their most recent form this is a bit of a shot in the dark, but I do see Liverpool having the advantage in this game. The Reds could and perhaps should have won in London but in front of their home fans, I think they will know that three points is an absolute must here in their title chase and I expect them to get it.
Why? I think the Gunners defence won’t be able to handle the high press and that Salah, Firmino and Mane or even Shaqiri if he plays, could be a real threat for Arsenal. In contrast, I think Liverpool’s back line is well set to deal with the Gunner’s major threats.
In terms of the Correct Score, I would not be surprised to see Liverpool win this by two goals, 2-0 being the most likely or 3-1 is also a distinct possibility.
For an anytime goalscorer, you can’t not pick Mo Salah given the form the Egyptian has showed this year and Reds fans will be delighted if he can grab a goal or two in this one.