Football News

Eight reasons Arsenal could (finally) avoid a routine Anfield defeat to Liverpool

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:22, 18 November 2021

Liverpool vs Arsenal is a meeting between two illustrious clubs responsible for some of English football’s most historic feats and moments — but in recent years, it’s too often been a one-sided affair.

Nothing illustrates this better than the fact The Reds have won their last five Premier League matches at Anfield against London’s most decorated club. To put this into some perspective using some trivia straight from Opta, the last time Liverpool enjoyed a longer winning run at home in the top flight against the Gunners was between September 1981 and January 1988 (seven in a row).

Liverpool v Arsenal odds from William Hill

  • Result: Liverpool (1/2) | Draw (18/5) | Arsenal (5/1)
  • Enhanced odds: Mohamed Salah to score first (top price guaranteed) @ 10/3 — was 11/4
  • Enhanced odds: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang To Score First (Top Price Guaranteed) @8/1 — was 13/2
  • Enhanced odds: Trent Alexander-Arnold to assist a goal @ 5/1 — was 2/1

18+ only. Be Gamble Aware. All odds in this article are correct at 22:20, 18/11/2021.

That said, coming into this weekend only two points separate the pair. A far cry from the aftermath of matchday three’s humbling 5-0 loss at Manchester City, which left Arsenal with no wins, zero goals scored and nine conceded.

Mikel Arteta’s job was in jeopardy, but to his credit he’s turned it around and despite where each club’s ambitions presently lie (Liverpool are in the championship picture), don’t expect another routine home win. Here are some reasons why.

1. Can’t be touched…

Who’d be a Premier League manager? Following their Etihad humiliation, Arsenal ended gameweek three rock bottom. Calls for Arteta’s removal subsequently intensified. But the powers that be (who supporters aren’t necessarily enamoured with) did not relent and that resistance has somewhat paid off.

Across their next eight league outings, the Gunners have picked up 20 points from 24 available during an eight-match unbeaten run that is currently the longest in England’s top division.

2. Home not so sweet home

Not so long ago, no one could penetrate fortress Anfield. The Reds went on an incredible 68-game unbeaten run at home from May 2017 to January 2021, but subsequently they suffered six losses on the bounce and though Jürgen Klopp’s men are currently unbeaten in nine (stretching back into last season) they’ve only claimed five wins. In fact, this season they’re looking better on the road than at home.

Liverpool have so far picked up nine points in Merseyside while collecting 13 away from home, and they have scored 10 Premier League goals at Anfield, fewer than half their away total (11).

Arteta would have seen Brighton & Hove Albion come from two goals behind to earn a hard-fought point, the second consecutive home league fixture in which Liverpool let a lead slip to draw. This also means Klopp’s side have dropped as many points from winning positions in these matches as they had in their previous 23 at Anfield combined (4).

3. Fitness issues

If one thing is certain, it’s that Liverpool come into this game not exactly at full strength. There are no fewer than eight players with fitness issues (nine, if you count Harvey Elliot), including Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and James Milner. All three returned to first-team training this week, but there were no signs of Naby Keita, Joe Gomez and Curtis Jones, who is recovering from an eye problem he sustained earlier this month.

Klopp is hopeful but still awaiting a final decision regarding the fitness of Andy Robertson, who came off in Scotland’s recent win over Denmark.

“Robbo was lucky, we can probably say. It was a little bit DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), the intensity of all the games he played probably, rather than anything else,” he told Liverpool’s official website on Thursday.

Milner was ruled effectively out, Henderson could possibly return and on Sadio Mane, he added: “Sadio is fine. Painful, but fine. Everybody who had a rib bruise knows it’s an annoying thing. But Sad trained here with us now in all sessions.”

4. Missing talisman

Someone who’s certainly ruled out for Liverpool is Roberto Firmino. Arsenal fans will be happy about that, considering the Brazilian’s record facing their side; against no team has Firmino scored more Premier League goals past (8).

They’re not out of the woods yet, though, as Mohamed Salah should feature. The Premier League’s leading scorer has been directly involved in nine goals in nine Premier League games against Arsenal (seven goals and two assists). At Anfield, he’s netted four times and created two more in four league outings against them.

And there’s also Mane (assuming he’s passed fit). In 14 previous league fixtures, he’s produced seven goals and three assists.

5. ‘Croydon De Bruyne’ is on the crest of a wave

A key reason behind Arsenal’s resurgence and uptick in form has been the exemplary performances of homegrown midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, who recently earned a first international call-up. England boss Gareth Southgate couldn’t look away as ‘ESR’ netted in each of the Gunners previous three league matches (currently, he’s their joint-top league scorer on four goals).

Any nervousness on entering the senior fold will have been lifted when Manchester City forward Jack Grealish welcomed him with reference to his nickname among fans, ‘the Croydon De Bruyne’. Confidence restored, the Londoner netted in England’s emphatic 0-10 win at San Marino, which earned plaudits from skipper Harry Kane.

“He’s had a fantastic season so far, it’s great for him to play and get a goal today,” he said. “He’s got all the qualities, the quality is there. He just needs to keep his head down, keep working, and I’m sure he’ll have a great future.”

Gunners fans everywhere will be hoping that form carries into the weekend especially as this will be Smith Rowe’s first meeting with Liverpool.

6. Ramsdale factor

Things needed to change following that Man City spanking and this included goalkeeper Bernd Leno. He made way for major summer acquisition Aaron Ramsdale, a decision that has been nothing short of inspired.

In his opening eight Premier League appearances for the Gunners, he’s kept five clean sheets while only conceding four times. Looking at the wider picture, as opposed to just one man, Arsenal have kept six clean sheets in their last nine Premier League away games, including their last three in a row. They haven’t kept four in a row on the road since May 2005.

7. London calling

Before the recent international break, Liverpool had the opportunity to close the gap on early Premier League leaders Chelsea to one point. However their opponents, high-flying West Ham, had other ideas. David Moyes’ side pulled off a sensational 3-2 victory to end the Reds’ 20-game unbeaten run in the competition.

Interesting to note is the fact each of their last three defeats in the English top flight have been against London sides, having lost successively against Chelsea and Fulham before that 20-game run began.

8. Van Dijk and company have their work cut out

There will be a familiar face in Arsenal’s starting line-up for Liverpool manager Klopp: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who he previously worked with at Borussia Dortmund. There, the 32-year-old bagged 41 goals across 93 appearances under the German tactician. Although he’s managed four goals in 10 league games heading into Saturday’s showdown Aubameyang remains a nuisance for defenders. Among players to have played at least 75% of their Premier League time as a striker this season the Gabonese marksman has, according to Opta, applied more pressure than any other centre-forward in the competition (374).


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