EPL 2017-18 : Liverpool vs Arsenal - 3 Key Battles that could determine the course of the game
When Liverpool and Arsenal lock horns, an old rivalry that dates over a century will be rekindled. The two sides spent considerable time as the power houses in England before having to vacate their respective seats at the top of the hierarchy and are now involved in a struggle to become the elite club in England yet again.
If recent matches are anything to go by (40 goals in the last 10 games between the two sides), it is going to be an explosive game laden with goals and with emotions running high in Anfield on the back of their emphatic qualification to the UEFA Champions League, Arsenal have a tough task on their hand if they are to take anything from this encounter.
The Gunners come into the game on the back of a demoralising defeat at Stoke City and will be keen to put the defeat behind them with a victory at the home of one of their greatest rivals of all times.
While the situation seems grim for the club, Le Professuer Arsene Wenger has been in this kind of situations many times before and has proven that he can turn the season around in a matter of games. He will be keen to get a win against Jurgen Klopp as has lost 2 of his 3 games against the German.
However, every encounter is made up of numerous mini-battles that must be won so as to ensure a victory for the team and in this segment, we take a look at the 3 of the most critical battles from the game to come on Sunday.
Roberto Firmino vs Laurent Koscielny
While the news surrounding Liverpool has largely focussed on the future of the Brazilian magician Philippe Coutinho, another Brazilian has begun the season in scintillating form.
Roberto Firmino comes into the game against Arsenal on the back of an impressive outing against his former club Hoffenheim in the UEFA Champions League qualifier where the attacker was extensively involved in all the 4 goals scored by the Reds, and will be keen to put the Arsenal defence to sword on Sunday.
If his past performances are anything to go by, the Brazilian has already taken a liking for the Arsenal defence in the short time he has spent in England. After all, in the 4 league matches that he has been involved in against Arsene Wenger’s men since arriving at Merseyside in 2015, Firmino has scored 3 goals and assisted another to make him a definite topic of extensive discussion in the Arsenal dressing room.
Arsenal, on the other hand, will be hoping that their captain and leader of defence Laurent Koscielny will be able to put in a disciplined performance to keep the marauding attacker at bay.
Koscielny is no stranger to going up against the best in the business and coming out on top of them and should he keep Firmino silent, it could lay the foundations for an Arsenal win. The Frenchman excels in aerial duels while also imposing himself on the ground with his leadership and vision and will be hoping to come good after a rather troubled last 12 months which saw him miss several games owing to injury.
Firmino has taken the initiative to create opportunities for the Reds on himself this season and keeping him silent could help the Gunners keep the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamad Salah restricted and if there is one man who could be trusted with the role it has to be Koscielny.
However, it is not going to be easy as the Brazilian has shown that he does not need too much time and space on the ball to turn the game into his side’s favour and with him often dropping deep to create space for himself to operate into, Koscielny has a battle on his hands and will need to bring his A game to the table.