Our football writer previews Arsenal and Liverpool’s clash in gamweek one of the 2016/17 English Premier League season.
Super Sunday awaits… The Premier League is back with a bang! Arsenal kickstart their campaign with a stern test against Jurgen Klopp’s mighty Liverpool. The sides drew in both fixtures in the 2015/16 season, but recent history states that the Emirates has been far from a happy hunting for the Reds. However, this is Klopp’s first full season and he will be coming guns blazing for this tie. But just how will the Reds do against a Gunners team who come into the new season without tasting defeat in any of their friendly matches?
Arsenal v Liverpool | Sunday 14 August | Emirates Stadium | 17:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Arsenal 13/10 | Draw 23/10 | Liverpool 21/10
Heading into the new campaign undefeated in pre-season, Arsene Wenger will be hopeful that his side can claim maximum points in their opening day against Liverpool. In that pre-season run, the Gunners saw off the MLS All-Stars (2-1), Vikings (8-0) and most recently, Manchester City (3-2).
Arsenal have, however, suffered an early injury crisis, with defenders Per Mertesacker ruled out for up to four months and Gabriel Paulista being stretchered off in their win over Man City. So how does that bode for the Gunners’ back line? Laurent Koscielny, maybe? Unfortunately, the Frenchman is also ruled out due to his exertions in the Euro 2016.
The Gunners will most likely line-up with new signing Rob Holding and Calum Chambers in central defence. Arsenal will also be without Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud. However, Wenger is far from short on attacking options and will have Santi Cazorla, who is likely to replace Ozil in midfield, back after the midfielder missed the majority of last season due to injury. Giroud’s replacement, though, is probably still on his way to the club, with the ongoing transfer saga of Alexandre Lacazette yet to be settled.
If the deal fails to go through in time, Alexis Sanchez is in line to start up front for the Gunners with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain taking the Chilean’s place on the wing. So in all honesty, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Gunners. The back-four might be a bit shaky, but Arsenal have plenty of attacking options to hurt Liverpool.
After stating that this is now “HIS” team, Jurgen Klopp will have no excuses from this moment on. The Reds got off to a blistering pre-season start, winning their first four games without conceding. The fifth game is what sent Liverpool astray as they were humbled by a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea.
Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster ride for the Reds’ pre-season friendlies which saw them claim a famous 4-0 win over Barcelona. Fast-forward 24 hours, and Liverpool were humiliated by the same scoreline to Klopp’s former side, Mainz.
Like Arsenal, Liverpool also have a number of absent players due to injury. Goalkeeper Loris Karius, who is way better than Simon Mignolet, suffered a hand injury in pre-season and is expected to be out for another three months.
Mamadou Sakho, James Milner, Lucas Leiva and of course, Daniel Sturridge all miss out through injury. So that could mean, new signings Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Marko Grujic will all get their first taste of Premier League action, while other marquee signings Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum will have nothing to prove for the Reds after showing their amazing talent at Southampton and Newcastle United respectively. With that being said, the Brazilian pair of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino could also be a worry for Wenger’s defence.
New signing, Grujic, is certainly one to look out for this season after the young Serb already found the back of the net three times in pre-season and will be hoping to add to that.
The mighty Reds of Merseyside will need to do all they can to come to a ground where they are yet to win since 2011, and claim the all-important three points.
Verdict: Arsenal Win + Both Teams To Score (33/10)
Arsenal are undefeated against Liverpool in the last five meetings, winning two of those games (both at the Emirates stadium). The Gunners impressed most in pre-season where they were undefeated. However, their defence leaves me with plenty of questions to ask. The Reds sure do have goals in them, but the Gunners should come out firing on the day. Back Arsenal to Win + Both Teams To Score at a valuable 33/10.
Written by Jesse Nagel for @Hollywoodbets.
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