Liverpool vs. Arsenal: can the Gunners end their Anfield hoodoo?
Unai Emery could unleash record signing Nicolas Pepe for his full debut
Liverpool vs. Arsenal
- What: Premier League matchweek three
- When: Saturday 24 August
- Where: Anfield, Liverpool
- Kick-off time: 5.30pm
- TV coverage: live on Sky Sports
Liverpool host Arsenal in the pick of the Premier League matches this Bank Holiday weekend and the Reds not only have home advantage in their favour, but also recent history.
They’re unbeaten in eight straight EPL games against the Gunners, but the Liverpool Echo is predicting a “tight match” after a summer of new signings in north London.
The paper was impressed by one of those Arsenal new boys, Dani Ceballos, in his home debut against Burnley last week, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have already opened their goal account for the season.
The Gunners’ attack could be even more threatening if, as rumoured, Unai Emery gives a first start to wideman Nicolas Pepe at Anfield.
“That could very likely cause Liverpool problems,” says the Echo. “Specifically when implementing their well-documented high defensive line.”
Pundit Jamie Rednapp also warns Liverpool to watch Ceballos, saying the Spaniard looked the part against Burnley although a trip to the European champions “will be a great test of the 23-year-old’s ability”.
Top two tussle
According to Arsenal boss Emery it will be a “big challenge” for the whole squad, but he said in his pre-match post conference that their 100% record so far – a feat shared only by Liverpool – has put a collective spring in their step.
“For Saturday we are in a good spirit and our players are ready to play with big ambition to do something important,” said Emery, whose side were thrashed 5-1 in the corresponding fixture last season.
“It’s a big stadium with a big atmosphere… we need to play away and face big teams with big supporters. I think the motivation for us is very big on Saturday.”
Break the hoodoo
The last time Arsenal won a league fixture at Anfield was 2012, and although Emery has only been in charge for a year he’s aware that Liverpool has not been a happy hunting ground in recent seasons with a 4-0 defeat in 2017 and another 5-1 humiliation in 2014.
“Each match, each moment, each season is different”, he said, when asked about Arsenal’s poor record at Anfield.
“We can use last year, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago. But really it’s about our moment and this moment.
“We need to take our best performance and to go there with a good feeling and also thinking we can achieve that performance individually and collectively to be strong and to have our chances.
“We are looking forward to going there and showing that.”
Progress from Pepe
Asked if Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil will be available after missing the Burnley game through injury and illness, Emery said a decision will be taken today.
He was similarly non-committal when asked if he will unleash Pepe from the off for his full debut.
“I think his individual performances are progressively getting better,” explained the Spaniard. “For Saturday, he is maybe ready to have more minutes. I am going to decide [on Friday], but really his progress has been positive and has been good for the team and for him.”
Trent: we are ready
Liverpool and England right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold expects a tough test but says the Merseyside club will be ready for the clash.
The 20-year-old told the official Liverpool website: “I think Saturday’s going to be a different kind of test to the one we faced last week [against Southampton] so we’re preparing for that.
“We did well against them last year, especially at home, and we’ll be looking to do the same kind of thing.
“I think over the last few seasons, especially at Anfield, we’ve always had high-scoring games.
“That’s the way both teams play, in an attacking style of football, so I’m sure both teams will want to win the game and it’ll be tough for both sides.”
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures
Friday 23 August
- Aston Villa vs. Everton (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 24 August (3pm unless stated)
- Norwich City vs. Chelsea (12.30pm, live on BT Sport)
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Southampton
- Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace
- Sheffield United vs. Leicester City
- Watford vs. West Ham United
- Liverpool vs. Arsenal (5.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
Sunday 25 August
- AFC Bournemouth vs. Manchester City (2pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United (4.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Burnley (4.30pm)