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Match Preview: Liverpool v Arsenal; Can the Gunners Spring a Surprise?


The last time Arsenal went to Anfield and took away 3 points, current manager Mikel Arteta was playing alongside Santi Cazorla. A full 9 years have passed since their last win at Anfield and with Arsenal riding a 10 match (all competitions) unbeaten run, the Gunners are hoping they can find that winning magic again as they face title contenders Liverpool.

Liverpool are in terrific form even though the last time out they lost to West Ham. Their overall play this season has been amazingly strong and it’s no secret that they head into this match as favorites for the win. However, Arsenal are growing in confidence, and they don’t resemble the feeble squad that lost its first three matches of the season.

Still, the Merseyside outfit present a difficult challenge for the Gunners. Mikel Arteta would do well to have studied the committed effort West Ham put in to come away with the win against Liverpool and use it as a potential blueprint for success.

Following the West Ham model

On November 7, 2021 West Ham put three goals past Alisson and closed out the last match week with a 3-2 win against title challengers Liverpool. Moyes set his team up in  a 4-2-3-1 and ceded possession to the stronger side by sitting back in a low block.

The whole premise to West Ham’s was to look to hit Liverpool on quick counter-attacks breaking forward. Moyes had his side create overloads down the left side with forward Michail Antonio pulling out to the wide channel to create space centrally.

Anytime West Ham would break forward and create successful  left-side overloads, the central area would be supported with Soucek in behind the forwards occupying the Liverpool centerbacks.

That space down the attacking left side may be the achilles heel for the Scousers. Trent Alexander Arnold is amazingly solid attacking full back but he does have a tendency to push too far up and leave space in behind.

It is that space the counter attack needs to exploit and Arteta wouldn’t be wrong to try and coax Aubameyang to pull out wide into that space (something he likes to do) and exploit this weakness.

In addition to looking to get Auba pulling out wide the technical quality of Tavares on the ball could be a key to also exploiting TAA who isn’t as good a defender in 1v1 situations as he is in an attacker in those duels. Another possible addition would be using Emile Smith Rowe and his ability to drive into space to open up that pocket behind TAA and play into behind the back  line.

Regardless, its going to require a committed effort and patience.

What we Can’t Do

While the Gunners are still very much a work in progress, there are still consistent signs of improvement from over the first three games and even over last season’s version of the unwatchables.

The hallmarks of the 10 game unbeaten run have been focus and effort and while these may seem like fluff words to many they are the intangibles that make the difference to being competitive to getting blown out.

Arteta finally has the most of the players out on the pitch he wants out there and by all signs they are completely buying into what he wants them to do.

Additionally, they can’t fold under the aggressiveness of Liverpool’s gengenpress. Liverpool are masters of unnerving their opposition through the trademark aggressive pressing of Jurgen Klopp’s teams. However, what have helped Arsenal in their turnaround of late, is their composure even under pressure.

Abandoning that could result in forced errors that could turn the match up on its head.


We know the quality of Liverpool. We know that they are a project years ahead of where Arsenal are now. We know that Arsenal have shown marked improvement since the beginning of the season. The result of today’s match can’t change that.

Arsenal have a chance to make a statement even if they were to lose. It would of course be in the manner of the loss. Completely fall apart and look like headless chickens may lead to claims that the improvement was a false dawn. But a hard fought effort, even if it were in defeat can be the cause for continued optimism for this Arsenal squad.

Key Match Up

Take your pick down the left-hand wide channels. As we mentioned earlier, Alexander-Arnold has a weakness its in the 1v1 duels, especially with players who are good on the ball. I like the match up of him versus either Smith-Rowe (the battle of hyphenated names) or vs Tavares. Either player are good enough to force the Liverpool fullback to be more cautious rather than adventurous.

What the Manager Says (courtesy

“It is always a test, it is a fascinating stadium to play football in,” Arteta said. “You have to be at your best, and raise the level to your maximum standards, emotionally, physically, tactically, because if you don’t you will be exposed.

“Going to Anfield is always a test, but if you are able to do that, there are not many grounds as good as there to feel that you are a proper footballer.

Arsenal Record vs Opponent (league only)

16W 23L 19D

Goals Scored (season average)

Arsenal (away) 1.18

Liverpool (home) 2.00

Goals Conceded (season average)

Arsenal (away) 1.18

Liverpool (home) 1.00

xG (via Wyscout)

Arsenal 1.71

Liverpool 1.95

Match Officials

Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth official: Andy Madley
VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.

Match Facts (courtesy

  • Arsenal’s unbeaten run of eight games is currently the longest of any Premier League side. They can go 11 games undefeated in all competitions, which would be their best sequence under Mikel Arteta.
  • Arteta has won 54 of his opening 100 Arsenal matches. Only George Graham, with 56 victories, has a better record over the same period.
  • The Gunners have kept six clean sheets in nine Premier League away games, including the last three in a row. They could keep four consecutive away clean sheets in the top flight for the first time since May 2005.
  • Aaron Ramsdale has not conceded a goal in five of his eight Premier League appearances for Arsenal. He kept five clean sheets in 37 games for Bournemouth in 2019-20 and five in 38 matches for Sheffield United in 2020-21.
  • Emile Smith Rowe has scored in three consecutive league appearances and has four goals overall – already double his total from last season.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has failed to record a shot on target in any of his six Premier League games versus Liverpool.
  • Liverpool have won their last five Premier League home matches against Arsenal, scoring at least three goals each time. The aggregate score is 18-4.
  • A sixth Arsenal loss would equal the club record for successive defeats at one Premier League ground. The Gunners have also lost their past six games at the Etihad.
  • Arsenal have won just one of the 11 Premier League meetings during Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool tenure (D3, L7). Klopp’s side have scored 39 goals versus Arsenal in all competitions, his best record against any club.




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