Arsenal host Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday night in the Premier League. The hosts are just four points behind the Reds but can’t really make it into the top four. Both teams have big European matches on the horizon and may not be 100% focused on this clash. Arsenal are unbeaten since 2016 at home against Jurgen Klopp’s team.
Mikel Arteta’s team have been consistently inconsistent this season. Their last 12 matches across league and cup have seen five wins, four losses and three draws. Their last game saw a comeback from 3-0 down away at West Ham to draw 3-3.
After a great week as they beat Benfica 3-2 and Leicester 3-1, a stale 1-1 draw at Burnley followed. They then beat Olympiakos 3-1 in Greece and their North London rivals, Tottenham, 2-1 at home. The Gunners subsequently progressed to the quarter-finals of the Europa League despite a poor 1-0 home defeat to Olympiakos.
Arsenal Team News
Arteta is sweating on the fitness of Emile Smith Rowe after the young playmaker picked up a knock on duty with the England under 21 team. Willian missed the West Ham game with an injury and Bukayo Saka was not selected by England as he too is carrying a fitness concern. The latter should return to play in this match having had two weeks to recover.
Arsenal have decisions to make in defence with Callum Chambers and Pablo Mari likely to drop to the bench having started the West Ham game where the side were 3-0 down after 32 minutes after some shambolic defending.
Arsenal’s best bet of Champions League qualification is winning the Europa League so their match on Thursday against Slavia Prague is a more important one than this. That could mean some distracted players and less motivation than usual when facing Liverpool.
Arteta would probably be very happy with a draw from the match and is not likely to take risks with any of his players carrying injuries, nor with his style of play in terms of being open and expansive.
Klopp’s team have had a disaster in 2021 so far with nine defeats in their 17 matches. Firing seven scoring blanks in that run has been a huge concern too. The side’s biggest struggles have been at Anfield with six defeats in a row, but they look like a different team on the road.
Their last four matches away from Anfield have yielded four wins and four clean sheets as they won 2-0 away to RB Leipzig (in Budapest), 2-0 at Sheffield United, 2-0 in the second leg against Leipzig also in Budapest (despite being a “home” game) and 1-0 away at Wolves in their last match.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool continue to navigate a plethora of injuries in their squad. Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk are still out in defence to Nat Phillips with likely partner Ozan Kabak for the third match in a row with Fabinho then able to play in midfield.
Roberto Firmino had a knee problem before the international break and if he misses out then Diego Jota will play in the front three in his place. Jordan Henderson is nearing a return to contention but this match will come too early for him.
The Reds have not won at Arsenal since 2016 and will be very motivated to take all three points and to try to keep pace with Chelsea, West Ham and Spurs for the fourth Champions League place.
A draw would not be a good result with the gap to the top four but Liverpool face Real Madrid on Wednesday and that is sure to distract the players and possibly lead to a slight drop in motivation for this match with players looking to conserve energy and avoid injuries.
Arsenal have won 4 of their last 7 matches
Arsenal have won 3 of their last 9 PL matches
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 8 goals in his last 12 matches
Arsenal are 3 home PL matches unbeaten against Liverpool
The Reds have have won 2 of their last 8 PL matches
Liverpool have won their last four matches to zero away from Anfield
Liverpool have lost 6 of their last 8 PL matches
Liverpool have lost just 2 of their last 12 away PL matches
Liverpool have kept 4 consecutive clean sheets away from Anfield
Liverpool are looking more balanced with Fabinho back in midfield whilst Arsenal are capable of big performances as well as abject displays. With both sides likely to have one eye on their European quarter-final ties in midweek, a draw probably looks the most likely outcome from this match and therefore the best bet. A narrow Liverpool victory could also be a good shout.