Arsenal vs Liverpool preview: Team news, probable lineups, key stats and prediction
Arsenal's recent performances have been average, to say the least. Coming under a lot of criticism for continuing as the Gunners boss, this season hasn't been in any way different from the 2016/17 one for Arsene Wenger.
With 18 games played, the North London outfit find themselves with 33 points - 19 adrift of leaders Manchester City. Their potent talisman of last season Alexis Sanchez has failed to carry his rich vein of form into this campaign, and that has seen Arsenal often struggle for motivation in the final third.
Sitting outside of the top four, the Gunners know that beating Liverpool on Friday could see them return to their beloved fourth spot on the league table. The Reds, much like Arsenal, have been erratic this season, but unlike their opponents, there has been no shortage of goals for them.
The likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane have all been in scintillating form this campaign, and have already made a case for Liverpool possessing the league's best attack, despite Manchester City's goal-scoring glut at the top of the table.
Thus, the neutral should be in for a cracking contest between two sides desperately hoping to qualify for the Champions League next season. Arsenal will start as slight favourites, particularly due their home form, but Liverpool have the quality within their ranks to come away from the Emirates with a positive result.
Arsenal's midfield woes looked to be behind them when Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere both returned from injury. However, while Wilshere now appears to have gained full fitness, Ramsey is ruled with yet another injury. It has been reported that he has an issue with his hamstring and is not expected back in the lineup until January.
German defender Shkodran Mustafi is another doubt for the game on Friday, but Wenger has stated that the World Cup winner is back in training. Given the number of defensive woes, the Gunners are likely to start with a four-man defence.
Liverpool, on the other hand, continue to remain without the full-back pairing of Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez have been rotated for the right-back berth in Clyne's absence, while new signing Andrew Robertson is expected to retain his spot in the eleven until Moreno recovers.
On the plus side, Joel Matip is in contention to start his first game in December as he has been training since Tuesday. Emre Can's also expected to be named in the playing eleven, while Adam Lallana could be left on the bench as he's still not a hundred percent.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac; Wilshere, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez; Lacazette.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet; Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Robertson; Chamberlain, Henderson, Coutinho; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
- Arsenal have won 13 of their last 14 matches played at the Emirates Stadium with their only loss coming at the hands of Manchester United.
- Liverpool are looking to beat Arsenal in four consecutive games for the first time since 1998. A win on Friday would see the Reds achieve that feat.
- There have been a total of 17 goals scored in the 90th minute or later in this fixture - the most of any other Premier League game.
- The Reds have scored at least three goals in each of their last four encounters against the Gunners.
- Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka has been the most involved player in the league this season as he has made the most number of touches (1774), and has also completed the most number of passes (1516).
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
The Gunners have usually enjoyed success when all of Lacazette, Ozil and Sanchez have started, and the trio are likely to start on Friday and wreak havoc against a struggling Liverpool defence.
While the Reds have their flaws in defence, they're equally potent in the final third, and it will be a herculean task to keep out the likes of Coutinho and Salah who are in red-hot form, firing on all cylinders in recent weeks.
Thus, both teams are likely to score, but the Gunners may just seem to hold the edge and could knick a late victory as they have done on a number of occasions in recent seasons. While Olivier Giroud may not be there to provide assistance off the bench, Arsenal have a number of quality players among their ranks to spoil the party for their visiting Merseyside opponents.