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Seven-goals-in-four-games star can be thorn in Unai Emery’s side again in goal fest – Liverpool vs Arsenal match preview

Liverpool vs Arsenal TV channel, kick-off time and predicted line ups

When? Saturday 24 August, 5.30pm BST

Where? Anfield, Liverpool

What channel? Sky Sports Main Event

Liverpool XI: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Salah, Mane, Firmino

Arsenal XI: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Ozil, Pepe, Nelson, Aubameyang

Players to watch…

Players at both ends will be crucial for Liverpool. First up, their goalkeeper Adrian is a clear weak link in the team as Alisson continues to be out with injury, and Arsenal will hope to exploit that as the Reds show signs of being slightly less rock-solid at the back than last season.

At the other end, however, Liverpool have Roberto Firmino looking sharp and ready to hurt Arsenal again as he has done so many times before. Remarkably, the Brazil international has scored seven times in Liverpool’s last four home matches against the Gunners, including a hat-trick against them last season.

roberto firmino liverpool

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has a great scoring record against Arsenal

Arsenal may fancy a go at their opponents’ defence, but will also need the likes of David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos to step up in a big way if they are to keep out Firmino and co. this Saturday.

If Nicolas Pepe starts, and that remains an ‘if’, the Ivory Coast international will surely be another to focus on, as he has the quality to torment defences and decide matches on all his own, as he did on a number of occasions for Lille last season.

In other words, this could be a bit of a goal fest at both ends if we’re lucky!

Form book…

Well, the season’s not been going for that long yet, but both sides have set the early pace with six points out of six so far, though one or both of them will see that perfect record end this weekend.

Both have also had pretty easy games on paper, so it might be a tad early to make too many assumptions on how this game might play out based on that.

If we delve a little further back into pre-season, though, it’s fair to say again that Arsenal might look at this Liverpool side as being a little more vulnerable defensively than last term, which might mean the perfect time for Unai Emery to unleash Pepe.

Last time they met…

It was an absolute blood bath.

Arsenal went 1-0 up at Anfield thanks to Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but the lead lasted three minutes before Firmino – who else – made it 1-1. Two minutes later, the Brazilian put LFC ahead and the visitors just fell to pieces.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were a joy to watch that day, and if their attack click into gear this weekend there’s always a risk of a similar humiliation for the Gunners…

In the dugout…

We all know what Klopp will want from his players this weekend, and we know he’s surely safer than most managers in world football right now.

We’re much less sure about Emery, who is yet to truly stamp down a set style of play since replacing Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium.

As a result, it still feels like you never quite know what you’re going to get from Emery’s Arsenal, and by now fans might perhaps feel justified in thinking they should probably have a better idea.

The Spanish tactician has a reputation for being extremely pragmatic, so should in theory have his AFC side well set up to nullify LFC’s strengths and punish their weaknesses.

arsenal-boss-unai-emery

Unai Emery needs to start showing his value to Arsenal

However, there was little sign of that when they met at Anfield last season, and it may be that the home side’s quality is simply too much for their visitors again this weekend.

Arsenal, however, have added a bit more quality of their own this summer in players like Pepe and Dani Ceballos, and that could make all the difference in terms of getting the manager’s game-plan to work.

We should have a better idea by Saturday evening. As for Liverpool, Klopp will know his side need to continue to win big games like this if they are to run Manchester City as close as they did last year, with there being barely any room for slip-ups in such a high-intensity title race.

Prediction…

There’s a bit of a buzz about Arsenal this year, with their new arrivals bringing a bit of an X-factor ahead of this game.

That said, it might be a bit early for some of them to really get going and influence a game like this one against such top class opponents who know each other so well by comparison.

Provided there are no Adrian howlers or other sloppy errors, this should be another reasonably comfortable win for Liverpool, if not the same level of thrashing as last season.

We’re going 3-1 to Liverpool.

More Stories Adrian Dani Ceballos David Luiz Fabinho Jurgen Klopp Mohamed Salah Nicolas Pepe Roberto Firmino Sadio Mane Sokratis Papastathopoulos Unai Emery Virgil van Dijk