To upset the odds again, Arsenal’s midfielders MUST help cover Liverpool’s full-backs and force Klopp’s men to make mistakes in possession… This is where tonight’s big game game will be won or lost
- Liverpool take on Arsenal at Anfield in a mouth-watering clash on Monday
- Arsenal will look to counter Liverpool’s high press with their deep midfield
- Jurgen Klopp’s side could have joy down the wings with their full-backs
- The Gunners will look to force their opponents into errors at the back
Anfield has not witnessed a 0-0 between Liverpool and Arsenal since 1998 and there’s little chance of Monday night’s fixture serving up a goalless encounter.
Mikel Arteta has won the last two tactical jousts with Jurgen Klopp, including the Community Shield, but Arsenal have not been victorious on their opponents’ turf since 2012 – when their manager was still a player.
The Gunners have also conceded 30 goals in their last eight visits to the red half of Merseyside but Arteta’s use of deep lying midfielders have kept Liverpool’s potent attack at bay much better in the last two fixtures.
Mikel Arteta will be looking to make it three wins from three against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool
Arsenal will also be buoyed by the news that Klopp will without captain Jordan Henderson and possibly goalkeeper Alisson and new signing Thiago Alcantara is also likely to miss out.
But Liverpool’s domination against Chelsea last weekend showed exactly why they’re champions and that 60-game unbeaten home record will be hard to end.
With both teams having a 100 per cent winning record going into the clash, something has to give. Sportsmail looks at the areas on the pitch that could define Monday night’s clash.
Liverpool have become the masters of the high press under Jurgen Klopp – demonstrated perfectly by Sadio Mane’s goal at Chelsea last weekend.
The Reds make it difficult for their opponents to play out from the back, something Arsenal like to do, and they’ll be looking to put their opponents under pressure from the start.
Liverpool were quick out of the blocks against Leeds, carving their opponents open in less than four minutes and they could have been further ahead before Jack Harrison’s equaliser.
Sadio Mane’s quick pressing forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into a mistake in the game at Chelsea
The goalkeeper could only hit his clearance straight into Mane who had an easy tap in to score
But Liverpool can also be hurt by their own tactics.
Arsenal’s winning goal at the Emirates in July came when Reiss Nelson put Virgil van Dijk under pressure on the edge of the box, forcing him to play a stray back-pass straight into the path of Alexandre Lacazette.
Leeds similarly pressed up high against the Reds and again it was Van Dijk who got caught, mis-hitting his clearance to Patrick Bamford who was on-hand to finish.
Liverpool gave the ball away a staggering 185 times against Marcelo Bielsa’s side. In comparison, Chelsea lost possession 113 times at Stamford Bridge. If Arsenal can get their pressing right, they could force the Reds’ backline into a mistake.
Arsenal were also able to use the high press in the last game between the pair at the Emirates
Reiss Nelson put pressure on Virgil van Dijk who hit a stray back-pass to Alexandre Lacazette
Can Liverpool break through Arsenal’s midfield?
Arsenal’s identity has never been to sit back and defend but Arteta admitted, against the big teams, they have to accept they will see less of the ball.
The Gunners’ boss has signalled the end of the club’s obsession with passing: ‘Sometimes it’s what you want to do as a coach and sometimes it’s what you’re allowed to do with the levels of players and performance that the top teams can do against you.’
‘In the games against Liverpool, City and against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, we obviously had very long periods where we had to defend deeper than we would like to.’
Arsenal attempted to counter Liverpool’s high press in the Community Shield by deploying two deep central midfielders in Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny – and for large parts it worked.
Elneny is likely to be replaced by Dani Ceballos at Anfield but the Spaniard’s role will be the same.
Xhaka and Ceballos aren’t the quickest midfield pairing and they will need to make sure they keep a rigid shape to make it difficult for Liverpool to break through.
Arsenal will play a deep midfield but Takumi Minamino managed to exploit that at Wembley
They also can’t afford to give away cheap free-kicks that could result in a booking. Mane and Mohammed Salah are very good at drawing fouls and the Gunners midfield can’t afford to pick up a yellow card early on.
Takumi Minamino is likely to start on the bench but the Japan international has shown signs he is starting to get to grips with English football and he could cause Arsenal’s midfield problems.
It was Minamino’s introduction that got Liverpool level at Wembley and he is quicker than the other central midfielders available to Klopp.
Can Arsenal’s counter-attack surprise Liverpool again?
In both of the last fixtures Liverpool have seen a lot the ball.
The Reds had 70 per cent possession at the Emirates and 60 per cent at Wembley but were unable to make their dominance count.
The Gunners’ goal in the Community Shield came from quick passing at the back before Bukayo Saka hit a fantastic cross-field ball to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who exploited Neco Williams’ positioning to cut in and score.
Arsenal caught Liverpool on the counter-attack at Wembley with a long cross-field ball
Bukayo’s pass found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in space and he was able to produce a finish
The more experienced Trent Alexander-Arnold will be back in the startling line-up tonight but he too was caught out against Leeds by their quick counter-attacking.
Arsenal utilised the long ball in the last encounter and they will know they can have joy if they are able to find Aubameyang in space down the flank.
But the Gunners must stay disciplined and, if they can hit Liverpool on the break, take their chances.
They can’t afford a costly defensive error undoing their game plan early on because if they fall behind and have to chase the game they’ll be in trouble.
Liverpool’s full-backs can cause problems
Ainsley Maitland-Niles had joy operating as a left-wing back against Liverpool at Wembley but Saka is likely to get the nod at Anfield with Hector Bellerin on the right.
If Arsenal are to counter-attack, they can’t afford to give the ball away in dangerous areas. If Saka and Bellerin get caught out high up the pitch, they’l be exploited by the pace of Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
Robertson especially is renowned for his ability to turn defence into attack. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal against Chelsea in July is a perfect example.
Andy Robertson cleared the ball from his own penalty area against Chelsea to start the attack
He then sprinted the length of the pitch to pick up the ball and provide the perfect cross
The Scot headed away Reece James’ free-kick then quickly raced out of his penalty area and down the left wing after receiving the ball from Mane. The full-back skipped past Andreas Christensen before putting the ball on a plate for Oxlade-Chamberlain to finish.
Arsenal were caught out against West Ham when Saka had pushed up high on the left only for possession to be turned over. This left Sead Kolasinac exposed when Jarrod Bowen drove forward down the right before feeding Ryan Fredericks to cross for Michail Antonio to equalise.
The Gunners will need their midfielders to cover their wing-backs if they lose possession against Liverpool.
Saka was caught out of position against West Ham with defender Sead Kolasinac left exposed
Jarrod Bowen played in Ryan Fredericks who then crossed for Michail Antonio to finish
Adrian’s distribution can be exploited
Adrian was generally a reliable deputy for Alisson when the Brazilian was missing through injury last season and the No1 is facing a late fitness test.
However, the Spaniard did suffer some howlers – especially from his distribution.
Going back to Liverpool’s first away match of the 2019-2020 season, the goalkeeper was played a simple back-pass but his dithered on the ball and ended up hitting his clearance against Danny Ings who scored the easiest goal of his campaign.
Adrian’s dithering against Southampton saw his clearance hit Danny Ings and rebound in
Similarly against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, a stray ball out from the back gifted Marcos Llorente a goal which ended up changing the tide of the game in the LaLiga side’s favour.
There was also the error against Chelsea in the FA Cup tie in March where he fumbled a straight forward effort from Willian into the back of the net.
There’s no doubt the ‘keeper can produce some eye-catching saves, but his concentration levels are not on the same level as Alisson and Arsenal could have some joy putting him under pressure on the ball.
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