Second meets fourth in what ought to be a fascinating Premier League encounter at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night, as Arsenal play host to Liverpool. Both sides marched to convincing 2-0 victories at the weekend, as the Gunners sank Leicester City while Jurgen Klopp’s side saw off Brighton & Hove Albion. Exposing Leicester City’s Achilles’ heel from set pieces once again, Arsenal ensured that they would end the weekend still regarded as the favourites for the fourth and final Champions League performance with a clinical showing against the Foxes.
Thomas Partey’s second goal for the club – another header – saw the Gunners break the deadlock after just 11 minutes against Brendan Rodgers’s side, and Alexandre Lacazette made sure of the result from the spot in the second half after Caglar Soyuncu’s handball. Individual brilliance from the likes of Partey and Martin Odegaard capped off another sweeping display from Mikel Arteta’s side, who have risen back into the top four ahead of Manchester United and are one point clear of the Red Devils with three games in hand. Arteta has now overseen a stellar run of five consecutive Premier League victories – with Arsenal scoring at least two goals in each of their last four in the top flight – and fourth spot is certainly theirs for the taking after a dramatic turnaround in fortunes from their miserable August.
Only upcoming opponents Liverpool and Manchester City have performed better at home than Arsenal – the Premier League’s most in-form side at the moment – this season, but the Gunners will need to raise their level even more if they are to win a fourth Emirates match on the bounce this week. How Robert Sanchez managed to evade a red card for his kung-fu-like challenge on Luis Diaz is still beyond comprehension, but the Brighton goalkeeper could only watch the ball trickle into the back of the net as Diaz literally put his body on the line for the team.
Mohamed Salah proceeded to make it 20 Premier League goals for himself and 2,000 Premier League goals for Liverpool from the penalty spot in the second 45, as the Egyptian wing king slotted home after Yves Bissouma’s handball at the Amex Stadium. Jurgen Klopp had few qualms about an early kickoff this time around following the Reds’ Champions League exploits, and the second-placed visitors could now move just one point behind Manchester City, with the Citizens being held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace on Monday night. Victory on the South Coast marked an eighth Premier League win and third top-flight clean sheet on the bounce for the rampant Reds, who have also prevailed in each of their last five away from home in all competitions and are no stranger to dominant showings against their North London counterparts.
After teaching Arsenal’s youngsters a footballing lesson 4-0 at Anfield earlier this term, Liverpool won 2-0 at the Emirates in the EFL Cup semi-finals after a 0-0 draw on home soil in the first leg, and the Gunners have now failed to score in five consecutive meetings with Klopp’s side since September 2020. Emile Smith Rowe recovered from illness in time to enjoy a 15-minute cameo in the win over Leicester, but Takehiro Tomiyasu’s calf injury will likely keep him sidelined once more. Arteta’s inspired side did not pick up any fresh concerns on Sunday, and the Gunners boss will certainly be tempted to stick with an unchanged XI as Cedric Soares continues to deputise for Tomiyasu.
Smith Rowe is in contention to displace Gabriel Martinelli on the left-hand side, but Arteta may want to be cautious over the England international’s fitness as he resumes his ‘super-sub’ role. Meanwhile, Liverpool were handed a scare with Mohamed Salah after he left the Amex turf with a foot problem, but the attacker’s issue is not too serious and he could yet make himself available for the midweek game. Kostas Tsimikas and James Milner are both ill, but Klopp’s side are otherwise in good shape as Ibrahima Konate returns from a knock. Diogo Jota could deputise for Salah if the Egyptian is not risked from the off. Thiago Alcantara was also named among the substitutes for the Brighton win – most likely with the Emirates trip in mind – and the Spaniard will likely displace Naby Keita in the first XI here.
The Reds could easily err on the side of caution with Salah, however, with the firepower they have enabling them to call upon the No. 11 from the bench if needed.
And after an impressive run on the left of midfield, Naby Keita certainly warrants keeping his place in the side: With a long list of options, there is even the possibility that Klopp could turn to a midfield trio of Fabinho, Keita and Thiago – although, it has never been a decision made from the start. Nevertheless, Liverpool have all the firepower necessary and the break between games helps the accumulative fatigue that has been building up, but there can be no underestimating Arsenal.
Arsenal have no time to soak up the joys of nine wins in their last 11 Premier League outings as they are back at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday to host Liverpool. Here is the match preview. Back into the top four with a 2-0 win over Leicester on Sunday, this grueling run of three games in six days has the small matter of Jurgen Klopp’s side sandwiched in the middle. It will be the fourth time these two have met this season, with the Reds boasting an aggregate lead of 6-0.
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Lacazette
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Jota, Mane, Diaz
NAME: Arsenal – Liverpool
DATE: 16 Mar 2022
TIME: 20:15 UTC
VENUE: Emirates Stadium, London, England