Saturday March 4th – 17.30 – BT Sport 1 HD
A huge game in the Premier League in the late Saturday kick off as 4th and 5th play each other, Liverpool in desperate need of 3 points after such a poor start to 2017.
A win for Man United in the days early kick would see them move to 4th temporarily which would mean both Arsenal and Liverpool would start this game outside of the top 4. This could add to the spice in this game which very rarely fails entertain.
There’s not much to choose between the two sides of late, Arsenal have won only 5 of their last 10 league games and Liverpool have only won 4. Liverpool are still the joint top goal scorers with Chelsea, but only just, holding a one goal advantage over Arsenal in terms of goals scored. Arsenal’s defence is better however conceding 4 fewer goals than Liverpool. In fact The Reds have kept just two clean sheets in the last 22 league meetings, and none in the last 10 at Anfield.
This makes this a very hard game to call, as both teams are evenly match and both teams have been having struggles of late.
One thing Liverpool do well however is put in big performances against the top teams. Liverpool have earned an unrivalled 16 points from matches against the other teams currently in the top six. Lower teams have got used to the system being employed by Jürgen Klopp which means that they sit back deep with 2 solid lines of 4. Teams crowd out Liverpool making it hard for them to thread their way through towards goal. Along with that, teams often play with high full back who are used to quickly turn defence into attack once Liverpool lose the ball. The classic counter attack has been enough for teams to really get at Liverpool recently and as Liverpool aren’t blessed with defenders of real quality have been unable to defend against this. This was a big reason behind Leicester’s success on Monday night.
However the story has been somewhat different when Liverpool have played teams in the top 6. Part of this could be because the players find it easier to get up and energised for a big game, but more likely is the fact that teams in the top 6 are likelier to have higher share of ball possession and also attack Liverpool. This gives Liverpool the opportunity to break at pace, something they have not been able to do with recent opponents.
Arsenal on the other hand don’t have a good record against the other top 6 clubs and could again prove to be their downfall. Whilst Liverpool have gained 16 points against top 6 opposition, Arsenal have only won five points. This is the worst record of any of the top 6 teams. This is a trait that is all too familiar with Arsene Wenger’s sides who over the last decade have not been able to effectively take the advantage in games against the top 6, a fact that has contributed towards their distinct lack of silverware.
This is a good opportunity for Jurgen Klopp to get his team back on track with a morale boosting win. The early signs under Kloop were really impressive with many thinking they could push for the league and showing real signs of improvement. However in reality Jurgen Klopp has exactly the same record as Liverpool manager after 56 league games as Brendan Rodger.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last three home Premier League games against Arsenal however.
Arsenal need a win especially with Man United looking in very good form only 2 points behind them. Arsenal have lost 4 of their last 10 Premier League matches after only losing 4 of the previous 35 and pressure has been steadily mounting for Arsene Wenger who maybe about to run out of time at Arsenal if reports are to be believed.
Alexis Sanchez is Arsenals most important player at the moment. When he plays well more than likely the team play well, he is so heavily relied upon. He has been directly involved in 25 league goals this season (17 goals, 8 assists), 4 more than any other player. But much like the theme of the team against the top 6, he has only one goal against the current top 6.
Another good option, especially off the bench is Olivier Giroud who has scored 5 goals in his last 7 Premier League appearances against Liverpool, including 3 in his last 2 games at Anfield.
The Gunners have won only one of their last 5 away matches in the league and Anfield isn’t the easiest place to go. With that said they have scored 28 goals in 12 away fixtures so far this season and we fully expect more to come this Saturday afternoon.
We are full of excitement for this game and usually delivers, both sides in need of the points for similar reasons and both teams knowing Man United are looking strong at the minute.
Liverpool are good against the top 6, Arsenal need to do better, and this has all the ingredients of a fantastic game. This makes it very hard to call but one things for sure, there will be goals and more than likely from both sides.
By Michael Thatcher