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Aug 24, 2019 at 5.30pm UK at ​Anfield
Attendance: 53,298
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Preview: Liverpool vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

While purists and cynics might justifiably sneer at talk of a top-of-the-table clash in August, the numbers show Liverpool and Arsenal at the summit ahead of this weekend's round of Premier League games.

The Reds and the Gunners are the two sides with perfect records following Manchester City's dramatic draw with Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday, when the champions were denied a last-minute winner at the Etihad Stadium via the ever-popular spectre of a VAR call.

Several teams could have supplanted the top pairing by the time of their late kick-off, although City will be watching for any slip-ups from the home side as they prepare for a trip to Bournemouth on Sunday.

Both teams had less comfortable wins than they would have liked last week, Arsenal seeing off visitors Burnley 2-1 while Liverpool won by the same scoreline at Southampton.


Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Salah on August 17, 2019© Reuters

The cruelly narrow margin by which Liverpool missed out on the title last season means they will be thrilled to take any advantage they can over Man City at this stage of the campaign.

They opened a two-point gap with a performance at St Mary's showing little of the lethargy observers had suspected could creep in following their post-midnight midweek exertions in Istanbul to win the Super Cup against Chelsea.

Coach Jurgen Klopp praised his players for an "outstanding" performance and admitted that the match was an obvious banana skin following the glamour of picking up the first trophy of a season he hopes will bear more for his squad.

Building a mentality in which every game is afforded paramount importance is something Klopp has increasingly spoken about, keenly aware that any complacency could lead to surprise setbacks that City are well placed to exploit.

Despite Arsenal's top-six status, this is another match in which his players could be forgiven for hardly anticipating their sternest test of the campaign.

Liverpool have scored at least three goals on each of the last four occasions against these visitors - the best of which came in last season's 5-1 win, when Roberto Firmino scored a hat-trick.

Klopp set a remarkable record last Saturday, comfortably becoming the quickest Anfield boss to reach 300 points during their tenure by doing so in just 146 games.

That means the German reached the total four games before Kenny Dalglish did so, while next-nearest challengers Rafael Benitez, Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly all needed more than 10 extra games to get there. Now Klopp will want his next three on the board.

Recent Premier League form: WW
Recent form (all competitions): WDW


Arsenal players celebrate Alexandre Lacazette's goal against Burnley in the Premier League on August 17, 2019© Reuters

Media headlines this week have focused on the May moment when Arsenal's trajectory may have turned.

Director Josh Kroenke revealed that the Europa League capitulation against Chelsea caused the club's hierarchy to rethink their strategy and splash out in the transfer market this summer.

Arsenal turned heads with the likes of £72m signing Nicolas Pepe from Lille, while the likes of Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos, who set up both goals in that win over the Clarets last week, have helped them make a positive start.

This is the first time since 2009 that they have picked up successive victories at the start of a Premier League campaign, although the familiar face of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ultimately made the difference in both wins.

Last season's joint Premier League top-scorer scored in the second half at Newcastle in the 1-0 opening day win and repeated the trick with less than half an hour to go after Burnley had cancelled out an early opener from strike partner Alexandre Lacazette.

Aubameyang and Lacazette aside, the questions around the ability of Unai Emery's squad to match the top-flight's frontrunners will continue until their form against them improves.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles struck a surprise opener at Anfield last season but, in a match that was indicative of the chasm in quality between Arsenal and the top two, they were outclassed following Firmino's 14th-minute leveller.

With Ceballos pulling the strings in midfield and Aubameyang and Lacazette supported by new recruits, Emery will be seeking a significant improvement on that forgettable result last December.

Recent form: WW

Team News

Adrian pictured for Liverpool on August 9, 2019© Reuters

Klopp suggested he had asked his players to send fewer passes the way of stand-in keeper Adrian at Southampton after the Super Cup penalty hero suffered an ankle knock while celebrating with fans in the aftermath.

The goalkeeper, whose dreadful late error gave Southampton a glimmer of hope in the final stages, was passed fit on the morning of the match and is expected to be ready again to face Arsenal.

Adrian is deputising for first-choice goalkeeper Alisson following the Brazilian's departure with a calf injury during his side's opening 4-1 win against Norwich City.

Right-back Nathaniel Clyne remains absent after rupturing his cruciate ligament in pre-season, and midfielder Naby Keita is doubtful for the Reds.

Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka are expected to be fit, though the pair will be assessed closer to kickoff.

Arsenal had midfielders missing against Burnley - Ozil was ruled out through illness and Xhaka suffered a lower back problem.

Both could be back in contention, although Emery's greatest issue is a shortfall at the back, with the likes of Kieran Tierney unavailable.

The new arrival from Celtic is not expected to return from injury until September, joining defensive colleagues including Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding on the sidelines.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Mane, Firmino

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Aubameyang, Ceballos, Pepe; Lacazette

Head To Head

Liverpool's recent record against Arsenal is formidable, with a solitary away defeat more than four years ago their only loss in this fixture in more than four years.

The Reds are unbeaten in eight against Arsenal and have won their last three when taking them on at Anfield, scoring 12 and conceding two along the way.

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We say: Liverpool 2-0 Arsenal

The omens at Anfield are not promising for the Gunners and Liverpool's strikeforce are certain to cause problems for a defence that was notoriously rickety last season and has not been properly tested in the opening two games.

Only the most pessimistic of Arsenal travellers would fear a defeat as dispiriting as that trouncing at the end of last year, and their enhanced squad depth gives them the potential to build on a reasonable run of form against the top six.

Pepe and Cabellos give Liverpool extra reasons to be wary, but they should remain the only side with a perfect record this season by extending their run against opponents they enjoy playing here.

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Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe in action on August 17, 2019
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