Reigning Premier League champions Liverpool host Arsenal on Monday night in the first of two meetings between the clubs in the space of four days.
The familiar foes duked it out in the season opening Community Shield at the end of August, which saw Arsenal walk away as victors after a penalty shootout. Mikel Arteta’s side travel to Anfield in the league on Monday before returning to the same iconic venue for Carabao Cup duties later in the week.
Since Jürgen Klopp’s arrival in Merseyside, Liverpool boasted a decidedly one-sided record in meetings with the Gunners – the German coach was unbeaten in his first nine matches against Arsenal in charge of the Reds. However, that run ended when the north Londoners defeated their newly crowned opponents in July last season, capitalising upon some rare errors at the back.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, Klopp warned that Liverpool ‘want to strike back’, a declaration made all the more ominous given the sharp start the Reds have made to the new campaign.
When Is Kick Off? Monday 28 September
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Being Played? Anfield
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports (UK)
Referee? Craig Pawson
Liverpool’s Brazilian defensive midfielder Fabinho filled in superbly at centre back against Chelsea last Sunday and may very well be forced to reprise the role on Monday night. Natural central defender Joël Matip has been ruled out until mid-October and Joe Gomez is a doubt as he recovers from a knee injury.
Club captain Jordan Henderson is also likely to miss out after picking up a thigh strain in the win over Chelsea though James Milner may overcome a knock to feature in the squad. There will be no reunion for former Arsenal player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is still out with a knee injury.
Alongside long-term absentees Gabriel Martinelli and Calum Chambers, Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi and Emile Smith-Rowe are likely to miss out with injury. Defenders Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Cedric Soares are also doubts while Kieran Tierney – who sat out the West Ham fixture last Monday – is still nursing a hip injury.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Thiago, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Arsenal: Leno; Holding, David Luiz, Gabriel; Bellerín, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
After losing by the narrowest of margins to Arsenal in the curtain-raiser, Liverpool played out a thrilling 4-3 win against Leeds United – a scoreline which somewhat flattered their white-shirted visitors.
Klopp’s side then swiftly banished any lingering memories of the dip in form their endured after securing the title last season, by swatting aside Chelsea with a convincing 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal have also taken maximum points from their opening Premier League fixtures. However, the Gunners followed up a routine victory against newly promoted Fulham with a shaky 2-1 win at home to West Ham which Arteta generously described as ‘a little bit lucky’.
Here’s how each side has fared in their last five outings.
Lincoln City 2-7 Liverpool (24/9)
Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool (20/9)
Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United (12/9)
Arsenal 1-1 (6-5) Liverpool (29/8)
Newcastle United 1-3 Liverpool (26/7)
Leicester City 0-2 Arsenal (23/9)
Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United (19/9)
Fulham 0-3 Arsenal (12/9)
Arsenal 1-1 (6-5) Liverpool (29/8)
Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea (1/8)
Klopp may have dished out a pre-match warning for Arsenal but the revered German coach also described his opposite number on Monday as ‘a pretty exceptional football manager’. Arteta will have to live up to that billing if he is to pull off an upset and lead Arsenal to victory at Anfield on Monday night.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 60 Premier League home matches and only dropped points at the famous ground once in the entirety of the previous league season.
If Arteta ends this run, he would become the first Arsenal manager to win his first match at Liverpool since Tom Whittaker in 1947.
Arsenal with their renewed organisation under Arteta have fared well against the bigger sides of late but a fully-focussed Liverpool – bolstered by the added dimension Thiago brings to their midfield – will likely prove too much for the Gunners, and many other teams this season.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal