It’s first vs third in the Premier League this weekend as Liverpool travel to Arsenal in a game that will be keenly watched by Manchester City, who are second.
After a period of dominance by the Cityzens, this season’s title race is shaping up to be a spectacular spectacle, with only five points separating first from third. City have a game in hand and if Liverpool lose at The Emirates, a win would cut the gap to two granted Pep’s men win their game.
For The Gunners and Mikel Arteta, this is a game where their title credentials will be decided. A loss here probably ends their title challenge considering the imperious form their rivals are in while a win puts them right back in the mix.
Here’s the match preview, team news, and prediction for the game as Premier League’s first “business end” fixture looms large.
Arsenal vs Liverpool preview
Arsenal have recovered from a mini stumble to win their last two games, with a commanding 5-0 victory over Crystal Palace followed by a composed 2-1 win away to Nottingham Forest.
However, at the top, the margin of error is extremely slim. That stumble has them looking in from the outside in a race that is between City and Liverpool as it stands. Therefore, a win is imperative for Arteta’s men if they are to shake off their tag of “pretenders” and announce themselves as “Contenders”.
There are no such worries for Liverpool. Klopp’s men are determined to send their manager a farewell present. Klopp’s announcement that he’s leaving Liverpool has had exactly the type of effect the German would have envisioned.
The team which had already looked close to getting back to its best looks like a different animal after the announcement. Everything Klopp touches is turning into gold, perhaps personified best by Conor Bradley’s star turn recently. He will be asking for more of the same here.
Arsenal vs Liverpool predicted lineups
Arsenal team news
The injury situation is pretty clear for Mikel Arteta. Jurrien Timber is not back before the end of the season and Thomas Partey has probably already played his last game for Arsenal.
Mohamed Elneny is returning from AFCON but he has a reduced role in the team anyway. Fabio Vieira is one to keep an eye on for this game as he could recover sufficiently from his groin injury to play a cameo off the bench. Takehiro Tomiyasu is busy with national commitments at the Asia Cup.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Raya, Zinchenko, Gabriel, Saliba, White, Rice, Odegaard, Havertz, Saka, Martinelli, Jesus
Liverpool team news
For Klopp and Liverpool, it’s a case of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. A comprehensive performance blew away Chelsea in the last game. Darwin Nunez’s status will be monitored closely. Although the manager said that nothing was broken in his foot after someone stood on it, the swelling needs to come down enough that he can wear the boot.
Andrew Robertson had a cameo off the bench against Chelsea so he might start here.
The rest of the team picks itself and all eyes will be on Conor Bradley after his world-class display against Chelsea.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson, Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai, Jones, Nunez, Jota, Diaz
Arsenal vs Liverpool prediction
Apart from the Etihad Stadium and Anfield itself, a trip to Emirates is arguably the third-toughest trip in the Premier League.
Arteta’s Arsenal has rediscovered the connection between the fans and players after it seemed lost in the latter days of Wenger and then Unai Emery. The Gunners would undoubtedly start fast, hoping the crowd wills them into supremacy at the same time.
Ultimately, the more varied attack of Liverpool should give them a slight edge. Expect Liverpool to cede possession to Arsenal and then break quickly after winning the ball high up through gegenpressing.
Arsenal won’t make it easy, but Liverpool have enough to see them off in a nervy, close finish.
FootTheBall predicts Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool.