This weekend’s Premier League action kicks off with a blockbuster clash, as Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Saturday.
It is a clash which could define either sides’ season. A win could provide a big boost in the respective side’s hopes of achieving their objectives for the season, while on the other side of the spectrum, a defeat could prove to be detrimental in their ambitions.
There are certainly a lot of similarities between Liverpool and Arsenal heading into the clash, and the two sets of fans can perhaps sympathize with each other more than any other team in the division.
Both Liverpool and Arsenal have been desperately looking to return to past glories after a period of struggle in the last couple of years and coincidently, during the current campaign, the two teams find themselves in a position where they can finally prove their doubters wrong.
The similarities do not end there. In terms of playing style, Arsenal and Liverpool adopt a similar philosophy of free flowing football played on the deck and the two have perhaps been the most attractive teams to watch this season.
Let’s look at the key battle where the game could be won or lost for the two sides .
Sturridge-Suarez-Sterling vs Arsenal Defence
It has widely been accepted that the strike partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez has been most potent this season, but the contribution of young Raheem Sterling cannot be underestimated. The trio have been causing havoc to opposition defences in the last couple of matches and can open up any defence in the world.
However, Sturridge, Suarez and Sterling will be faced with perhaps their toughest task yet, when they come up against the solid defence of Arsenal. People usually do not associate Arsenal teams under Wenger with a strong defence, but the foundation of the Gunners’ success this season has been their formidable back-four.
It will be enticing to see whether the deadly SSS trio can come out on top or the formidable Gunners backline will be able keep them quiet.
Creativity vs Industry in Midfield
They say games are won and lost in midfield and that might literally be the case on Saturday. Both sides boast a remarkable midfield which has been doing a fine job this season.
The loss of Lucas for Liverpool and Mathieu Flamini for Arsenal, perhaps cancels each other out, but in the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta, the Gunners certainly do posses more creativity in their ranks. Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard may not be able to match the flair of the Arsenal midfield, but their industry and hard-work, could certainly make up for it.
Arsenal seem to have the edge, but who will come out on top will depend on the pattern of the game.
Anfield Fortress vs Imperious Away Record
Liverpool have turned Anfield into a fortress this season, but, conversely, Arsenal are in magnificent form on their travels, allied by the fact that they have only lost once in their last 13 visits at Anfield.
However, this Liverpool side is certainly a different proposition compared to the teams in the past and Arsenal’s fine record at Anfield will mean little after kick-off.
On the other hand though, Arsenal are perhaps the strongest side to visit Anfield so far this season and Liverpool will have to fight tooth and nail in order to claim victory on their own pitch on Saturday.
Although it is almost impossible to choose, Liverpool do tend to turn on the style at home and have a slight advantage.
Advantage: Anfield Fortress
Managers: Youth vs Experience
Brendan Rodgers has forged a reputation for himself as one of the brightest young managers around, while Arsene Wenger has seen and done it all before.
Rodgers will look to deploy a fearless approach, while Wenger may be a bit pragmatic, considering his side are away from home. Liverpool could look to overwhelm Arsenal from the get go, while the Gunners may look to be more patient with the ball.
It will be a fascinating tactical battle of the minds between two managers of the highest quality, but the experienced head of Wenger just about has the upper hand.
The two could not be more equally matched. It is almost impossible to predict who will come out on top. A lot will depend on how the pattern of the game is set and which team can execute their game-plan more efficiently. It will be a game decided by fine margins, but I am going to go for an Arsenal victory. Liverpool 1 -2 Arsenal