Arsenal’s impressive resurgence at home has helped them improve their league position considerably in recent weeks, knocking on the door of the top 4 race after their start to the season was undermined by back to back defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea. But will they be the team to finally end Liverpool’s massive unbeaten record both this season and at Anfield?
Liverpool vs Arsenal Preview and Prediction
Fact of Interest:
- Liverpool are yet to win against Unai Emery in any competitive fixture having lost the Europa League final in 2016 and drawing the earlier season encounter at the Emirates against Arsenal.
- Similarly, Arsenal are yet to beat Liverpool while coached by Jurgen Klopp.
- Liverpool are unbeaten against Arsenal in the last 7 competitive matches between the two sides.
- The last two matches at Anfield between these sides featured comfortable 4-0 and 3-1 wins for the hosts.
- Arsenal’s last win against Liverpool was a 4-1 victory in April 2015; their last away win at Anfield was a 2-0 victory in September 2012.
- Liverpool are the only remaining unbeaten side in league competition this season.
- Extended further than this season, Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 30 home league games.
- Liverpool have won 8 of 9 league games at home this season, conceding just twice.
- Arsenal have won 4 of their 9 away league games this season, scoring 21 goals (the same amount as Liverpool, with only Spurs having scored more away from home).
- Arsenal’s recent 3-2 defeat away to Southampton ended a streak of 14 unbeaten league matches.
- Liverpool have scored 69% of their goals this season in the second half of matches.
- Arsenal have scored 75% of their goals this season in the second half of matches.
- Mohamed Salah has scored 3 goals in 4 matches against Arsenal, 3 of them while playing for Liverpool.
- Sadio Mane has scored 4 goals in 10 matches against Arsenal, with 3 goals in 5 matches while playing for Liverpool.
- Roberto Firmino has scored 5 goals in 7 matches against Arsenal.
- Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has scored 1 goal in 5 matches across his three clubs against Liverpool, but has never scored against the Reds in Arsenal colours.
- Alexandre Lacazette has scored 1 goal in 3 matches against Liverpool.
Both sides faced challenges with respect to schedules during the busy Christmas period; Arsenal’s trip to Anfield was preceded by a disappointing stalemate away to Brighton, while Liverpool smashed Newcastle 4-0 at home on the same date. The Reds, however, face a massive trip to the Etihad a few days after hosting Arsenal.
Match Facts & Summary
|Head to Head||Liverpool||Arsenal|
|Current Season Record||Played 19, Won 16, Drawn 3||Played 19, Won 11, Lost 3|
|Current Season Top Scorers||Salah (12), Mane (7)||Aubameyang (12), Lacazette (6)|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches||Liverpool 3 Wins, 5 Draws, Arsenal 2 Wins|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches at Anfield||Liverpool 3 Wins, 4 Draws, Arsenal 3 Wins|
|Last Season’s Result||Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal|
|Odds of Interest (as at 23 Dec)||Liverpool||Arsenal|
|Odds – Result (Draw = 3.57)||0.54||4.44|
View the latest EPL Betting Odds
Both sides are nursing several injury concerns; Liverpool’s crisis of sorts remains at centre back and fullback, with the injuries to Matip and Gomez affecting first choice selections keeping Lovren in a starting berth. Arsenal have similar issues, with fullbacks Bellerin and Monreal, centre back Mustafi, and attacking midfielder Mkhitaryan all doubtful for the match.
Expected Line-ups and Tactical Considerations:
Klopp’s Reds have shown a bit more tactical versatility of late, with subtle shifts between a 442, 4231 and 433 system in various matches of late. The common denominator has been a strong focus on expanding pitch width, creating a healthy volume of shot attempts (the win over Manchester United featured a whopping 36 shots as reference), and defensive solidity, with only an uncharacteristic error by Alisson causing only their second conceded goal at home.
Injuries will likely force the back five to feature the core players Alisson, Robertson and Van Dijk with Lovren alongside the Dutchman. Klopp should anticipate that Arsenal will elect to us a similar disruptive midfield that they employed in the first match up and in recent weeks, meaning that James Milner will be likely preferred in midfield rather than a makeshift role at right back, leaving Alexander-Arnold to fill that space. In midfield, Milner should be joined by form midfielder Fabinho and the dynamic Wijnaldum to offer both combative reinforcement and adequate midfield control against the industrious Arsenal middle. Up front, the front 3 of Salah, Firmino and Mane should remain intact in full.
It’s not without coincidence that Unai Emery’s first serious deviation from his 4231 culminated in a surprise defeat to Southampton. Even in the home defeat to Spurs, the 4231 offered Arsenal reasonable amounts of creativity, and the issue of personnel choice seems to have become the more prominent one for the Spaniard to solve. The recent matches against Burnley and Brighton featured more tweaks to the system, allowing Mesut Ozil to return into the team, and the overall performance was an exercise in clinical efficiency, even if the German’s contribution to the result was tentative.
Like Liverpool, Arsenal have defensive problems with injuries and as such have been forced to explore the threadbare options of the squad. Assuming the Spaniard wants the flexibility to shift between 4231 and 3421 based on the recent experiments, the backline headed by Leno should be completed by Kolasinac at left back, Maitland-Niles at right back (unless Lichsteiner is confident of keeping up with Mane), with Sokratis joined by either Xhaka as a makeshift centre back or – if fit enough – possibly the returning Laurent Koscielny. The robust pairing of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi should make another appearance in midfield with Xhaka alongside if the Swiss isn’t playing in the backline. Further forward, the frontline is likely to try and try and accommodate a pairing of Lacazette and Aubameyang, with possibly Alex Iwobi and most likely Mesut Ozil in support.
The history and form book, especially at Anfield, favour Jurgen Klopp’s side massively. The significance of the match – played a day before title rivals Manchester City visit Southampton – will mean that the Reds will be acutely aware of the need to keep the Citizens pressured to match the points on the board, and Liverpool’s superb history at their home ground against Arsenal, and recent home form in general, both amplified by Klopp’s personal record against the Gunners, make Liverpool a hard choice to bet against.
However, Arsenal won’t be a simple prospect to brush past. The dynamics of Aubameyang and Lacazette are as frightening to contend with as Salah, Firmino and Mane. Liverpool’s slightly less than desirable defensive situation with injuries also means that there’ll be enough valid concerns of whether or not Lovren will produce performances typical of the nature that got him replaced by Gomez in the first place. Liverpool also haven’t been able to win too many of the big matches this season; only Man United and Spurs were recorded as wins, with draws against Chelsea, Man City and of course, Arsenal.
It’s difficult to make a choice against Liverpool but ultimately, for all their attacking prowess, and excellent defensive record. For Arsenal, the injuries in defence may have come just at the worst possible moment for them to interfere with the hosts’ dominance on the field. However, both sides’ scoring prowess suggests goals for both sides, but ultimately one that ends with Liverpool edging the Gunners to stay top of the pile ahead of the clash against Manchester City.
Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change. View the latest EPL Betting Odds