Arsenal v Liverpool 2nd November: Preview
Arsenal and Liverpool will be fighting for top spot when they go head to head at the Emirates on Saturday.
The Gunners currently hold the top spot in the table with Liverpool third, two points adrift of this weekend’s competitors, level with second-placed Chelsea.
Depending on Chelsea’s result in their early kickoff against Newcastle United, the Reds could potentially go to the number one spot if they defeat Arsenal, who are unbeaten in their last eight league fixtures.
Despite their equally impressive starts, no one is really taking Arsenal and Liverpool seriously. Their current league positions are seen more as lustful flings than long-term love affairs: fun while they last but destined to go nowhere.
But for all their doubters, they are where they are – first and third respectively – ahead of the more fancied Manchester clubs and, in Arsenal’s case, Chelsea too.
The Gunners suffered their second defeat in three games but in reality were unlucky to lose at home to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, and Tuesday night’s defeat against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup proved little as Arsene Wenger fielded a weakened side.
The result had no direct impact on the Premier League, but it did highlight two factors that may prove significant come the end of the season: Arsenal’s fringe players are on the fringes for a reason – they’re not very good. Chelsea, however, have a formidable set of players in reserve, all ready to fight for the cause.
Sandwiched in between these two defeats was a 2-0 win at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. Arsenal were labouring to a 1-0 win when captain and goalscorer Mikel Arteta got sent off in the 65th minute, but the Gunners showed resilience and went on to win the game 2-0. The storyline switched from a lacklustre performance to a show of defiance.
After Liverpool were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Manchester United, Brendan Rodgers was able to rest his players ahead of Saturday’s showdown in north London. His players spent the week feeding off their 4-1 demolition of West Bromwich Albion.
A fully charged SAS strikeforce will give Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker a few more problems than Marouane Chamakh managed last week. The Moroccan has netted just a single goal in the Premier League this season. Between them, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have struck 14 times.
The pair will bring a frightening set of weapons to the Emirates – pace, trickery, movement, an eye for goal and an expertise in the dark arts (no points for guessing who brings that to the table).
More worryingly for Arsenal, they will be without the services of midfield spoiler Mathieu Flamini, who is out for 2-3 weeks with a groin injury and would have played a key role in stifling the influence of Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard.
Wenger made a host of changes for Tuesday night’s 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea as the Frenchman failed to secure his first win over Jose Mourinho.
However, the Arsenal boss insisted the defeat would have no detrimental effect to their league form as they prepare for a stern test against the Merseysiders.
The likes of Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil are set to be restored to the starting line-up, while Mikel Arteta returns following a one-match suspension.
Theo Walcott (abdominal), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Yaya Sanogo (back), Abou Diaby (knee) and Lukas Podolski (hamstring) all remain sidelined.
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho returns to the Liverpool squad following a spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, but boss Brendan Rodgers has a doubt over left-back Jose Enrique (knee).
Liverpool have not lost to Arsenal in the Premier League in their last three visits to the Emirates Stadium and the Anfield club will fancy their chances of avoiding defeat once again as they boast an unbeaten away record in the league this season.
Rodgers’ free-scoring side have not lost in their last four games in the top flight, scoring 12 goals in the process.
Luis Suarez has scored six goals in four Premier League outings since returning from suspension and the Uruguay striker has also scored in his last two trips to Arsenal, a club who tried to sign him several times in the close-season.
There will be great match-ups across the pitch come 5.30pm. The team that wins the most individual battles will claim the points.