Arsenal face their toughest test of the new campaign with a trip to Anfield to face Champions League winners and Premier League runners-up Liverpool.
Arsenal are one of only two teams to win both of their first two games this season, making a positive start in the league. Unfortunately, Liverpool are the other, and they look just as dangerous up front as they did last year.
Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are all off the mark for goals and assists already, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold haven’t lost their threat in wide areas, whilst Virgil van Dijk is in his usual impressive form at the back.
After last season’s thrashing at Anfield, Arsenal are going to have to work hard just to avoid the same fate again. On the upside, Unai Emery’s side have nothing to lose and everything to gain from a good result, so it’s an opportunity for them.
The match is at 17:30 BST on Saturday, August 24th at the Emirates Stadium, and it will be televised in the UK on Sky Sports. You can see the full television listings by country at LiveSoccerTV.
Let’s have a look at our predicted team for the match.
Predicted Lineup (4-2-3-1)
There’s some talk that Unai Emery might switch to a three-at-the-back against Liverpool, and it’s certainly a possibility. Arsenal’s pre-season didn’t really prepare them for that though, only changing from a back-four for a half or two all tour long.
Emery loves surprise tactics in the big games, but for now, we’ll assume he’s going to stick with the setup he’s been using for the last run of games.
Once again, Bernd Leno will start, despite Emi Martinez pushing him for a spot. The German has been in good form so far, only conceding once from close range.
David Luiz has a massive amount of experience in these kinds of Premier League games, and he had a positive debut for Arsenal against Burnley last weekend. He seems likely to start, with either Sokratis Papastathopoulos or Calum Chambers alongside him.
Chambers hasn’t had the best record against Liverpool in the past, losing or drawing all eight matches he’s featured in for Arsenal, Southampton, Middlesbrough and Fulham. Given he’s also the most inexperienced of the trio, he’s probably likely to miss out.
Arsenal don’t really have much choice in the full-back positions. Nacho Monreal has performed a lot better than Sead Kolasinac over the last few weeks, and there aren’t really any alternatives to Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the other side.
Rob Holding is almost ready for a return from injury, and he’s set to play 90 minutes for the u23s on Friday. Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Konstantinos Mavropanos should be back in October.
Arsenal finally have options in midfield, which makes it a little more difficult to predict which way Emery will go with the team.
Granit Xhaka and Mesut Özil are back in full training, Dani Ceballos, Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock all played well against Burnley, and Lucas Torreira also appears to be up to speed after joining pre-season later on.
Özil hasn’t played a minute of competitive football yet this season after a disrupted pre-season, so throwing him in from the start against Liverpool might be a bit of a gamble. Ceballos’ performance against Burnley sets him up to fill in.
Emery might look to protect Willock from this kind of game so early in his competitive career, looking instead to Guendouzi, Xhaka or Torreira for his midfield base. It’s a coin toss who he chooses, but I’d bet on Guendouzi and Xhaka.
Nicolas Pepe got a full half against Burnley and it’s time for him to be given a chance from the start now. Arsenal fans need something to cheer for in this match and a front three of Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gives them that.
It’s unfortunate for Reiss Nelson, who will have to drop to the bench alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but they may still get a chance to change the game later on.
Leno; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Sokratis, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Pepe, Ceballos, Aubameyang; Lacazette.