First real test for Arteta’s Gunners as they face titanic clash at Liverpool
Liverpool to win 3-2
The biggest testament you can pay Mikel Arteta is that these days matches between Arsenal and the other top teams are closely fought affairs and not one-sided thrashings.
Too often under his predecessors were Arsenal the whipping boys for teams above them. That is no longer the case, as Arsenal proved by beating Man City and Chelsea to win last season’s FA Cup and recently Liverpool in the Community Shield.
Liverpool won’t mind too much – they lost last year’s Community Shield to Man City, before going on to win the Premier League.
What’s clear is that both teams have started the league season very strongly, with 100% winning records so far and while Liverpool will go into the match as favourites, it’s expected to be a lot closer than in previous meetings.
It should be a great meeting of world-class players.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 2nd
Reasons to be cheerful:
New signing Thiago was sensational in his first match
Only lost one league game vs. Arsenal since 2015
Reasons to be fearful:
Arsenal have shown they can beat them recently
Have looked defensively shaky at times
In the opening weeks of this season, Liverpool have yet again set out their stall as one of the favourites to lift the league title.
Their best players look as good as last season, if not better, and they have managed to strengthen their squad by bringing in one of the best midfielders in the world in Thiago and a very able squad player Jota from Wolves.
Their defence has not looked quite as watertight as last term, conceding three in their opening match to promoted Leeds, but when they have the forward firepower at their disposal, they can outgun anyone.
Thiago will come straight in for the injured Henderson, and they will have a decision to make as to who will partner Van Dijk in central defence, but other than that it’ll be the same side who won the league 18 points clear last year.
Arsenal will be better this season than previous years, but Liverpool will still fancy their chances as favourites.
Star Man – Thiago
Likely to start his first match for Liverpool - watch his pass count rise as the minutes tick by. He controls the game with ease.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 6th
Reasons to be cheerful
Won their last two matches against Liverpool
Only conceded one goal in last three matches
Reasons to be fearful
Could struggle to control the game against Liverpool’s midfield
First big test of the season
Arsenal’s greatest improvement has been in becoming harder to play against, particularly in the big games, with a much more solid defensive unit.
They’ve only conceded one goal in their past three games, and the acquisitions that Arteta has made at the back have been wise – bringing in Tierney from Celtic and Gabriel from Lille, to play alongside David Luiz who has also improved.
In tying down Aubameyang to a new contract, they also have one of the hottest strikers in world football.
Where they do lack star quality is in midfield, and although the likes of Xhaka and Ceballos are technically gifted, they are sure to struggle against the power of Liverpool’s three.
They’ve shown they can beat Liverpool recently, but in truth they could struggle to hold on to their 100% record this weekend.
Star Man – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
One goal and an assist so far, his goal contribution numbers are among the best in league since he joined Arsenal.
A fantastic match with great quality on the field
Liverpool’s power in midfield will be too much for Arsenal’s
Firmino a good shout to get on the scoresheet
The result will be tighter than some of their previous meetings (think 5-1 to Liverpool in 2018, or 4-0 in 2017), but Liverpool will still be the favourites to win.
Roberto Firmino is yet to score in the league this season, but with 8 goals in previous meetings, he has more goals against Arsenal than any other team is his career.
Arsenal must play the ball quickly through Liverpool’s strong midfield, and Aubameyang must play cleverly in behind their defenders to get chances.
Both teams should score, but Liverpool may just edge it.
Liverpool to win 3-2