Liverpool vs Arsenal: Will the Gunners pull off another shock?


1:32 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang admits he considered leaving Arsenal, but decided to commit his future to the club after a talk with manager Mikel Arteta

What’s just as significant, though, is that while Arsenal still struggle to break down teams which are set up to sit behind the ball and frustrate them, they possess considerable threat on the counter-attack.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a player well known to Klopp having played under him at Borussia Dortmund, has scored five times in Arsenal’s last three meetings with top-six rivals and almost all of those goals have come from counter-attacking scenarios.

More of the same will be required as they approach a testing run of fixtures but the form of their attacking players is certainly encouraging.

Aubameyang, so deadly at the end of last season, has continued to impress in the new one, following up his goal in the Community Shield with another in the opening day win over Fulham, then providing an assist against West Ham. Alexandre Lacazette, meanwhile, has scored two in two and so has Eddie Nketiah.

Liverpool even stronger with Thiago, Jota

Liverpool will have to be wary of Arsenal’s attacking threat but they remain considerable favourites to win the game. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have started the season in explosive form and they now have added support from new signings Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara.

Jota is unlikely to be thrown in from the start just yet, but Thiago will certainly be confident of securing a place in the team following a hugely encouraging debut from the bench in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Chelsea.

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That is not to say the Spaniard was perfect at Stamford Bridge, of course. He was guilty of conceding Chelsea’s penalty when he tripped Timo Werner midway through the second half. But you would be hard-pushed to find to any faults in his performance with the ball. In just 45 minutes on the pitch, he made more passes than any Chelsea player managed all game.

Many of those passes helped Liverpool work their way through Chelsea’s low block and Klopp may look to him to do the same against Arsenal.

Indeed, if there was one criticism of this Liverpool side last season, it was that they sometimes struggled to break down opponents who did not give them opportunities to strike on the break. Thiago has been brought in to change that.

1:24 Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says that the signing of Thiago Alcântara was a ‘win-win’, with both the player and the club excited to team up

The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona midfielder has demonstrated outstanding vision and passing range throughout his glittering career. He tends not to rack up the assists, but few players are better when it comes to unpicking a packed defence. If Arsenal give him too much space to work in at Anfield on Monday, there is a danger he will punish them.

Jota is expected to be named on the bench, but he too could provide a game-changing impact if Liverpool need some inspiration late in the game.

The 23-year-old represents an upgrade on Liverpool’s other back-up options and made his debut as a substitute in the 7-2 Carabao Cup win over Lincoln on Thursday night. “I think everybody could see some glimpses of what he can do for us,” said Klopp afterwards.

Carra: Arsenal ‘different proposition’ under Arteta

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher was full of praise for the job Arteta has done since taking the Arsenal job in the latest episode of the Pitch to Post preview podcast. “There’s no doubt Arsenal are on the way back under Mikel Arteta,” he said. “I think he’s been a brilliant signing.

“I’m so impressed with how he’s managing that squad. I think we’d all say that squad still needs a lot more work doing to it to get back to the level Arsenal supporters want.

“But what he’s done with the squad he’s inherited is fantastic. To win the FA Cup, beat Liverpool a couple of times in the league and Community Shield, that’s something Liverpool will want to put right. But it’s a completely different proposition this Arsenal team coming to Anfield than it was last season when Unai Emery’s Arsenal came very early in the season.”

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“We know his upbringing in football, in Spain, and he’s worked with Pep Guardiola as a coach as well. He wants to be involved in teams that dominate the ball and dominate the game.

“But he possibly realises now he doesn’t have the players to do that, to take on the big teams, and he’s done it a different way and got results. I think that’s great management.

“He’s made Arsenal – would you believe – look defensively strong at the moment. That can only be attributed to his organisation rather than the individual players, I must say.”

Carra: No Liverpool drop-off

While Arsenal may be on the rise under Arteta, though, Carragher insisted there is no prospect of Liverpool letting their foot off the gas this season.

“Liverpool won’t drop off in terms of intensity or attitude or mentality,” he added. “That will not be allowed to happen with the manager they’ve got. They could drop off in terms of performance, that can happen with players at different times. If someone is slightly better than you, sometimes you have to hold your hands up.

“But it certainly won’t be a case of Liverpool climbing the mountain to win the league and just feeling like they’ve done it and don’t need to do anything else. That certainly won’t be the case.

“I didn’t need the Chelsea game to reaffirm that for myself. But, on the back of the Leeds game not going as well as most Liverpool supporters would have wanted, that was a performance which was almost a little message to the rest of the Premier League that they will be there or thereabouts this season. I think it was a great week for Liverpool.”

Watch Liverpool vs Arsenal live on Sky Sports Premier League on Monday Night Football from 7.45pm; Kick-off 8pm


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