Liverpool vs. Arsenal
December 29, 2018 — 5.30pm (GMT)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Man City‘s latest surprise slip-up has turned the Reds into odds-on favourites to win the title and their form is unstoppable at present.
They have accumulated 51 points from 19 games this season, winning 16, drawing the other three and conceding just seven goals along the way.
Next up is the visit of a dangerous Arsenal team who look a different proposition to the one that struggled in Arsene Wenger’s final years at the Emirates.
Unai Emery has turned them into a more resolute outfit, as highlighted by a 22-game unbeaten run that ended at Southampton on December 16.
The Gunners are showing signs of flagging during the festive period, however, and Liverpool’s attack can dominate their opponents’ suspect back line.
On the flip side, the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have genuine firepower capable of hurting the Reds, which Klopp is sure to be wary of.
Liverpool are made of sterner stuff nowadays, with their defensive record astonishing, and they will fancy their chances of adding three more points to their tally.
It would be the perfect end to one of the most positive years at Anfield this century.
This fixture last season: Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal
Liverpool are still without Joe Gomez (leg), Joel Matip (collarbone), James Milner (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Dom Solanke (muscle) and Rhian Brewster (knee), but Alberto Moreno is fit.
There is hugely positive news regarding Oxlade-Chamberlain, with the midfielder potentially returning to training in February—far earlier than first thought.
Klopp won’t make too many changes to his personnel, thanks to a five-day break before the Reds’ vital trip to City on January 3.
It is in midfield where Klopp may make alterations, with Fabinho potentially coming in and adding steel and quality to the midfield.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita remain options as well, but they are more likely to begin proceedings on the substitutes’ bench if Klopp reverts to a 4-3-3 formation—something he often does in the big games.
Emery will have to make do without Hector Bellerin, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck, all of whom are injured.
Shkodran Mustafi is a doubt with a hamstring issue, but Laurent Koscielny should start.
Last 5 at Home to Arsenal (All Competitions)
Won 4-0 – August 2018 (Firmino, Mane, Salah, Sturridge)
Won 3-1 – March 2017 (Firmino, Mane, Wijnaldum; Welbeck)
Drew 3-3 – January 2016 (Firmino x2, Allen; Ramsey, Giroud x2)
Drew 2-2 – December 2014 (Coutinho, Skrtel; Debuchy, Giroud)
Won 5-1 – February 2014 (Skrtel x2; Sterling x2, Sturridge; Arteta pen)
Did You Know?
Salah registered a goal and an assist against Newcastle, meaning he has now directly contributed towards 50 goals at Anfield since joining Liverpool 18 months ago.
His 36th strike came from the penalty spot on Boxing Day, while his 14th assist saw Fabinho head home his first-ever Reds goal.
The Egyptian has managed that feat in just 40 appearances, making it another astonishing statistic to add to his collection.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Arsenal – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking at Melwood on Friday, Klopp told reporters that he isn’t taking Arsenal for granted, encouraging the fans to make Anfield a cauldron of noise:
“It will be a tough game tomorrow night, really tough, because they are good.
“They are strong, good with the ball, they are very lively and their counter-attacks are crazy quick.
“They have outstanding strikers up front in Aubameyang and Lacazette, they are creative in behind and quick on the wings.
“They’re a really good team.
“I would like to have the atmosphere like it was when the people found out about the Man City score—that was a really exceptional moment. That would help a lot.”
TV & Live Blog Info
Liverpool vs. Arsenal is live on BT Sport 1 from 5pm (GMT), with kickoff at 5.30pm.
Chris Williams‘ run of 25 Premier League live blogs without defeat continues, meaning he is the only person to talk you through the action.
Keep him company from 4.45pm.