2018-19 Premier League: Liverpool v Arsenal, Preview, Team News, and Prediction
Two of England's most entertaining sides go head-to-head on Saturday evening as Premier League leaders Liverpool take on Unai Emery's chasing Arsenal. Anfield welcomes the Reds who now have a six-point lead over Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the table, while the Gunners are two points off a much sought after top-four place. Arsenal would love to end the Merseysiders' unbeaten start to the season, but a visit to Anfield is arguably one of the biggest challenges right now as Liverpool is unbeaten at home since April 2017.
Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle (Premier League)
Liverpool got what was, in the end, a comfortable win over Newcastle United as they completed an unbeaten first half of the season in style. Dejan Lovren opened the scoring with a scintillating volley following a corner. Mo Salah was brought down in the penalty area early in the second half and the Egyptian duly converted the spot kick to make it 2-0. Newcastle came closest through Jose Joselu's header which floated just wide of the far post. Xherdan Shaqiri has been in excellent form recently and the Swiss international got another goal on Boxing day to make it 3-0. Fabinho came off the bench to make it 4-0 by the end.
Brighton 1-1 Arsenal (Premier League)
Arsenal let a 1-0 lead slip away to Brighton & Hove Albion in a match they really should've won. The Gunners drew first blood after just seven minutes, Alexandre Lacazette drawing three defenders towards him before finding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in acres of space to slot the ball into the net. Aubameyang was in again just a few minutes later but Matt Ryan produced an excellent save to keep The Seagulls in the game. That proved crucial just after the half-hour mark as Jurgen Locadia being found in space and bearing down on goal thanks to a miscued header from Stephan Lichsteiner. The second half was eventful but the hosts had the majority of chances, the pick of the bunch falling to Locadia.
Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, James Milner, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all still out of contention for Jurgen Klopp. Fabinho has been in excellent form of late and scored on Boxing Day too despite coming off the bench. Club captain Jordan Henderson could start again in this one, but I believe Naby Keita will return to the starting XI despite being sidelined a few days ago.
Arsenal are still facing a defensive injury crisis with Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding both definitely out in addition to Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal who are major doubts. Elsewhere, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Emile Smith Rowe, and Danny Welbeck are all out. Mesut Ozil started at Brighton but was taken off at half-time, which suggests a start at Anfield would be unlikely this time around. Alexandre Lacazette will probably make the playing XI.
Key Player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The one man who has more Premier League goals this season than Mo Salah is Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Abuameyang. The issue for the away side, though, is that Aubameyang will inevitably be marked by Virgil van Dijk, one of the best defenders in the Premier League right now. Whatever happens on Saturday, this will be a fascinating battle to watch for.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
Perhaps playing Shaqiri, Firmino, Salah, and Mane is a defensive risk for Liverpool, but Arsenal's defensive frailties will be exposed with those front four all starting. Arsenal will probably score as they haven't drawn a blank in the league since the opening round of the season but they'll have to get multiple to stand a chance against the rampant Reds. Tottenham and Manchester City will need to win their respective games or face a real possibility of being cut adrift already.