-Gunners Weak Defence Dare Reds’ Attack
Preview by Yemi Ogunseyin
Arsenal vs Liverpool on Aug 14, 2016 @ 4pm at Emirates Stadium
The standout fixture from the opening weekend of the 2016-17 Premier League season sees Arsenal welcome Liverpool to the
Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
While Gunners supporters have been left frustrated by the club’s summer business once again, the Reds have quietly been
going about bringing in a raft of new faces as they look to mount a more serious title challenge this time around.
A new campaign ahead but a sense of same old for Arsenal supporters. Yet again, the Gunners have followed up a largely
underwhelming campaign which inevitably ended on somewhat of a high by not really doing a great deal to address the
While the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have certainly added another dimension to this squad in recent windows
and indeed continue to do so, the two key areas that are crying out for more depth, central defence and up front
continue to be overlooked by Arsene Wenger.
The Frenchman is now into the final year of his latest contract at the Emirates Stadium, and it remains to be seen
whether the man who so often frustrates the club’s fanbase will be trusted with another three-year cycle to continue
managing this talented side.
As is so often the case, Arsenal boast one of the finest groups in the division made even stronger by the signing of
Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach but only once in the last decade have they finished higher than third place
in the table.
Pre-season form: DWWWW
The bedding-in period now over, boss Jurgen Klopp has been given a chance to make this Liverpool side his own with the
arrival of six new players during the summer window; the £58m attacking pairing of Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum
It remains to be seen whether Klopp’s summer business will be enough, though, with ex-Southampton forward Mane – who
went five months without a goal at one stage last season, remember – hardly rivalling the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan
Ibrahimovic in the marquee signing stakes for a new era on Merseyside.
If last season taught us anything, however, it is that big-name players do not necessarily win you trophies; a group of
hungry and committed individuals proving far more important for Leicester as they swept away all comers en route to the
Recording their lowest top-flight finish in more than 60 years last season was not great, of course, but the major
positive is that there is no European distraction this time around and therefore an outside chance of going one better
than the Class of ’14 and finally bringing that much-coveted maiden Premier League crown to Merseyside.
Pre-season form: WWWWLWLWL
Arsenal this week welcomed Koscielny, Ozil and Olivier Giroud back to training following their Euro 2016 exertions,
while Jack Wilshere is also likely to be back in contention despite suffering another minor setback.
Aaron Ramsey and Sanchez, both of whom enjoyed their summers with Wales and Chile respectively, made their comebacks in
the impressive 3-2 win over Manchester City last Sunday, while Santi Cazorla also got some minutes under his belt in the
thrashing of Viking FK.
Despite facing fierce competition for a starting spot, Simon Mignolet will begin the campaign in goal for Liverpool due
to Karius’s injury, but a debut could be handed to Ragnar Klavan in the heart of defence and Mane in a three-man attack.
Liverpool are understood to be on the lookout for a new left-back to replace the inconsistent Alberto Moreno, yet for
now the Spaniard will be tasked with providing width from the back.
For all the talk of new arrivals, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino still remain two of the Reds’ most important
players; the latter playing a part in 13 goals in 15 appearances between January and May.
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Monreal; Cazorla, Xhaka; Chamberlain, Ramsey, Walcott; Sanchez
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno; Lallana, Can, Henderson; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho
Head To Head
Arsenal have only lost one of their last nine Premier League meetings with Liverpool, with four of those matches ending
in a draw.
The Reds hold claim to an equally poor record on their travels in this fixture, having picked up a victory just once in
20 visits to Arsenal in all competitions.
Liverpool have also taken eight points from 30 on offer at the Emirates Stadium, while the Gunners havetasted defeat
once in their last 15 opening-day fixtures – two of those coming in the last three attempts.