Here we go, the first big test of the (league) season.
Arsenal have struggled against Liverpool over recent years. Memories of 5-0 last season, the 4-0 of 2017 and the debut of Sadio Mane in a highly memorable 4-3 win at the Emirates a few seasons ago should give fans a glimpse into what you’re likely to see from this game; goals.
Liverpool vs Arsenal tops the list of the highest scoring Premier League fixtures of all time with an average of three goals a game. (155 goals in 54 games)
Let’s have a gander at who could start this (hopeful) goal fest. Here’s The Anfield Talk’s Matt (@_MattTandy)’s starting XI prediction.
GK: Adrian – The Spaniard has shown some shaky moments in recent weeks but he’s also made some phenomenal saves so here’s hoping we get more of the latter, less of the former today.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – For probably the first time in his fledgling career Trent is getting a bit of stick. Expectations are through the roof for the 20 year old after last season but like every challenge in his career so far, he’s sure to overcome it with ease.
CB: Joe Gomez – A controversial pick here. Joel Matip was extraordinary last season and would more than warrant a place in the XI should he get the nod over the young Englishman. We’ve started the season with a very high line and should it continue into the Arsenal game we’ll need some pace to counter against The Gunners’ rapid front line.
CB: Virgil Van Dijk – After three games without a clean sheet the Dutchman will be itching to get back on track here, it could be a tough ask but it’s the sort of situation last years Player of the Year always relishes.
LB: Andy Robertson – Amid some potentially hopeful shouts from across Stanley Park that Lucas Digne is the best left back in the country, Andy will want a big performance today to put this absurd “contest” to bed.
DM: Fabinho – Without question one of the best players in his position in the world, let alone the country, he always performs well no matter who he’s playing against. Somehow it seems that the Brazilian will need to further up his game if he wants to get back into the Brazil squad, so expect him to be even more up for it this season to prove Tite wrong.
CM: Jordan Henderson – Captain, Leader, Criticism magnet. Not always everybody’s cup of tea, not many players have been able to split a fanbase over the years quite like our number 14, but his presence on the pitch and his leadership clearly make him one of Jurgen Klopp’s most valued players.
CM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Another tough decision. Klopp tends to favour a midfield pairing of one of Henderson/Milner/Wijnaldum against the big teams to give opposition players as little time on the ball as possible while keeping it tight in the middle.
However, I think that Chamberlain was one of the better performers against Southampton last time out so if he’s as fit as Klopp’s been saying in the press this week then he could keep his place. He offers another dimension that the previous names don’t, directness, creativity and goals.
LW: Sadio Mane – A double salvo return against Chelsea was followed up with a screamer at St Mary’s. The Senegalese sensation has bagged seven goals so far in his career against Arsenal, including on his debuts for Liverpool and Southampton.
RW: Mo Salah – Only the one goal so far this season but the Egyptian has looked sharp, he’ll know more than anybody that he needs to perform today. With all three of last seasons Golden Boot winners on the pitch at the same time, Salah will want to be the one writing the headlines.
ST: Roberto Firmino – Bobby has started the season well, a goal and two assists in three games is great, should he continue as he’s going he’ll put to bed any fears that he may need to be replaced going forwards.
The Brazilian is without doubt the most important player to Liverpool’s system and with a hatrick in his last game against Arsenal, Firmino should be licking his lips.