The English Premier League comes roaring back to our screens with a number of mouth-watering contests to entertain the football purist as the best league in the world enters its business end of the campaign where managers and players will be put to the test to find out which clubs rise to the top and belong with the cream of the crop, under a gruelling schedule of playing twice a week.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Considering the woes Arsenal have endured earlier this season, the Gunners could count themselves fortunate since the London outfit still have the opportunity of drawing themselves within a point of defending champions Liverpool with a win on their home patch this Sunday, currently trailing by a four-point deficit.
While Liverpool will be aiming to kick on from their impressive displays against RB Leipzig and Wolves which saw the Reds bring back joy to the passionate Merseyside faithful in back-to-back wins, just before going on international break.
English Premier League | Saturday 3 April | Emirates Stadium | 21:00
To Win Match
Arsenal showed a lot of character and finally showed us what they’re capable of when hitting their stride in an attacking sense. Against West Ham United, just two weeks ago, Mikel Arteta’s troops were caught cold and found themselves trailing the in-form Hammers by three goals at the half-time break.
I’m not certain of what instructions Spanish mentor Arteta relayed to his men at the interval, but we are definitely ready to feast our eyes on more of that swashbuckling style of attacking football.
The Gunners came close to a famous comeback victory but it wasn’t meant to be, three second-half goals saw Arsenal leave the London Stadium with a share of the spoils and rueing the stoppage in momentum that the international break has thrown in the works.
Arsenal have drawn Slavia Prague in the UEFA Europa League and will switch focus to their other route to gain entry into the UEFA Champions League on Thursday night.
Unlike the clubs in the Premier League, Arsenal have already faced most of the “big-six” clubs both home and away. With just Chelsea left to play on the penultimate week of action and Liverpool this Sunday, Arsenal’s chances of returning to the Champions League could rest on their remaining seven matchups against the midtable teams, which they’ve had a little difficulty with in the last two seasons.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hasn’t had the season we all touted him for at the very beginning but it wouldn’t be all doom and gloom if Gabon’s captain could inspire his team to achieving Champions League qualification that will allow the club to attract more talented players like the red-hot Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard, who’s been a much-needed addition in a creative sense. Oh, and he can hit them sweetly. The Norwegian’s left-footed rocket against Olympiacos was sublime.
An intriguing clash awaits us at “the carpet” with a host of top-notch talents ready to show what they’re made of.
Liverpool were untouchable at this stage last season, suffering one defeat, one draw and claiming 27 victories from 29 Premier League games. This is still unbelievable, given the quality of teams in the division.
Fast forward to this season where a multitude of issues have seen the mighty Reds’ fall from grace in nine defeats from 29 matches. The FIFA Best Manager in the World for two years running, Jurgen Klopp, still has time to salvage a top-four spot that will allow him to rebuild his charges to go all guns blazing from the onset of the following season.
Class resonates in this team and they will surely return to their elite mentality that has been so dominant over the past three campaigns. Injuries have of course dealt the telling blow to the 2020/21 season; however, we would be foolish to rule out Liverpool from earning a strong finish with 27 points to play for.
Against all odds, Liverpool made light work of German side RB Leipzig, dispatching Die Roten Bullen in convincing fashion by a 4-0 aggregate, which alarmingly reminded everyone what this team can achieve when they’re back to their best.
If Liverpool somehow fail to make the top-four in the league standings, their other avenue to qualify for next season’s Champions League would be claiming their seventh title and winning this year’s edition where a show-stopper quarter-final awaits us with Klopp’s men set to lock horns with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid.
Diogo Jota is a fantastic player that I rate very highly. His dynamic movement off the ball and willingness to run through brick walls will be a boost. The Portuguese forward links up excellently with the points of attack Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
With Roberto Firmino a massive doubt through injury, Jota could cement his place in the starting XI if he continues to score goals at will in the famous Red jersey.
Leno; Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Smith-Rowe; Aubameyang.
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Nat Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Wijnaldum; Mane, Salah, Jota.
Verdict: Arsenal 2/1
Arsenal have played their best football against the traditional top-six clubs and have dropped points against midtable teams that will surely be ironed out with new recruits adding more depth in the upcoming months. I don’t expect this encounter to be high-scoring but a rather pragmatic approach that is dictated by Arteta’s men being smart and efficient without possession and making it count by scoring the odd goal when they decide to go for Liverpool’s jugular and inflict a 10th league defeat to the visitors.
Written by Bryan Naicker