02 November 2018

Liverpool at Arsenal 11.03.18

1:30pm ET, live in the US on NBC

Last four head-to-head:
3-3 (a) 12.22.17
4-0 Liverpool (h) 08.27.17
3-1 Liverpool (h) 03.04.17
4-3 Liverpool (a) 08.14.16

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 4-1 Cardiff (h); 4-0 Red Star (h); 1-0 Huddersfield (a)
Arsenal: 2-1 Blackpool (h); 2-2 Palace (a); 1-0 Sporting Lisbon (a)

Goal scorers (league):
Liverpool: Mané 6; Salah 5; Firmino, Sturridge 2; Matip, Milner, Shaqiri, Wijnaldum 1
Arsenal: Aubameyang 7; Lacazette 4; Özil 3; Xhaka 2; Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Monreal, Mustafi, Ramsey, Welbeck 1

Referee: Andre Marriner (LFC History) (WhoScored)

Guess at a line-up:
Trent A-A Gomez van Dijk Robertson
Wijnaldum Fabinho
Shaqiri Firmino Mané

If it ain't broke.

Two games in a row with 4-2-3-1, with Fabinho and Wijnaldum holding, with a line of Firmino, Mane, and Shaqiri behind Salah.

Two wins while scoring four goals in each, conceding just one unnecessary goal late against Cardiff.

True, Arsenal are not Red Star or Cardiff. I would not be surprised to see Henderson or Milner come in for Shaqiri, to see Liverpool's more familiar formation. I wouldn't be surprised to see both Henderson and Milner if Liverpool return 4-3-3, with Fabinho also making way. I hope to see Gomez come back in for Lovren, with Alexander-Arnold on the right.

But if it ain't broke.

If there weren't three unbeaten teams in the league, Arsenal would be getting even more publicity and praise. They started the season with two losses, their first without Arsene Wenger as manager since 1996. Two understandable losses – against Manchester City and at Chelsea. And then they went on an 11-match winning streak before a draw at Palace last weekend, then winning with the B-team in the League Cup against Blackpool on Wednesday.

Seven wins, one draw, and two losses. 22 points, just two behind Chelsea and four behind Liverpool and City.

They're quite good in attack. Arsenal have scored four more goals than Liverpool so far this campaign. They put three past West Ham, Cardiff, and Leicester, and five past Fulham. They've scored at least twice in every league match except the opening day fixture at Manchester City.

Granted, they're seemingly over-performing – an Expected Goals total just over 14, but with 24 goals actually scored – but that's not entirely a bad thing. Liverpool over-performed by a similar margin last season and it was a lot of fun to watch unless you were playing Liverpool.

They're not quite as good defensively, having conceded nine more goals than Liverpool. They've kept just two clean sheets in the league, at home against Everton and Watford more than a month ago. Their 13 goals conceded, in contrast to the attack, is almost exactly in line with xG totals.

It's slightly understandable, both given Unai Emery's style – playing out from the back, reasonably heavy pressing, an emphasis on attacking patterns – and Arsenal's defensive injuries and the actual defenders involved. But it still ain't great. It's definitely something Liverpool can take advantage of.

And Arsenal might be without both starting fullbacks tomorrow; Bellerin went off with an injury at halftime at Palace while Monreal has missed the last four matches. Both could be in contention, but will be assessed tomorrow, as will Sokratis and Kolasinac. Elneny, Koscielny, and Mavropanos are injured and Guendouzi is suspended.

Arsenal do have options, and have had to use them over the last month. If only Bellerin's fit, Kolasinac or Lichtsteiner will play at left-back. They'd have played there more if not for Bellerin's and Kolasinac's respective injuries, meaning that Xhaka has been the stand-in left-back for the last few matches. If Bellerin's unable to feature, Lichtsteiner will stay at right-back with either Kolasinac or Xhaka on the other flank.

Otherwise, the Arsenal XI has been fairly consistent during their unbeaten stretch. Cech; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Holding, Xhaka; Torreira, Ramsey; Iwobi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.

Emery may be slightly more cautious than the recent attacking formations used, dropping one of Lacazatte or Aubameyang to the bench for Welbeck or Mkhitaryan. Cech's fit again – with Leno having started the previous three league matches – but Cech also pulled a Cech in the League Cup a few days ago, allowing Blackpool back in the game so *shrugs*.

These matches have been fairly bananas since Klopp took over. 3-3 at Arsenal in January 2016. 4-3 at Arsenal on Opening Day in 2016-17. Romps at Anfield in both 2016-17 and 2017-18, 3-1 and 4-0 respectively. And another 3-3 at Arsenal last December, Liverpool up 2-0 before conceding three in five minutes, then at least clawing a point back. Three goals scored by at least one side in all five fixtures, and by both sides in three of them.

Both sides have the potential to do so tomorrow. There are goals in those XIs, as we've seen from Arsenal over the last couple of months, as we've seen from Liverpool only sporadically this season, albeit more in the last two matches.

Liverpool, however, looks the more likely to keep the opposition from doing so.


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