Arsenal aren’t mathematically eliminated from finishing in a Europa League place but heading into a match against 93-point and counting Premier League Champions Liverpool desperately needing a win is not an enviable position. The Gunners need results and for teams ahead of them to drop points to make the EL through table finish. They could also pip a spot by winning the FA Cup, but to do that, the Gunners need to beat Manchester City on Sunday and then one of either Chelsea or Manchester United. The odds are slim. It’s almost closing time, y’all.
Arsenal and Liverpool have met twice this season, way back in late August in the league (Liverpool 3 - Arsenal 1) and in late October in the Carabao Cup (Liverpool 5 (10) - Arsenal 5 (9)). As with much of the matches from Fall 2019, I don’t think there is much insight to be gained from those games into tomorrow’s matchup. Liverpool are extremely good. Arsenal are what they are. Even in their current not-the-nearly-unbeatable-team-destroying-juggernaut form, Liverpool will be an extremely tough opponent.
The Arsenal team news is unchanged. Eddie Nketiah will serve the 2nd of his 3 match red-card ban. Mesut Özil is being assessed for “back soreness” that has been the stated reason for his non-inclusion in the last six matches. There’s been no news on a reconciliation with Matteo Guendouzi, so I don’t expect him in the matchday squad. Bernd Leno is hoping to return to full training before the end of the season. Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, and Gabriel Martinelli are all out for the rest of this season.
Liverpool are likely to be without James Milner who is recovering from a minor muscle injury. There’s an outside shot he’ll be fit to face the Gunners tomorrow, but it looks more likely he’ll return to action against Chelsea next week, per Jurgen Klopp. Everyone else who has been available for the Reds during the restart will be available tomorrow.
So how should Mikel Arteta lineup tomorrow? We know Arsenal’s defense is suspect, which is part of the reason why he’s been using three at the back — to get that extra man defending. But the attack has suffered as a result. Arsenal aren’t generating the volume of chances they need to win matches. Liverpool, they of the 76 goals scored this season, the second most in the Premier League, are going to score tomorrow. So Arsenal are going to need to score with them.
Trading a formation with an extra defender for one that is more attack-minded doesn’t seem like a promising plan; it sounds like Arsenal conceding 3+ tomorrow. But what will the attack that put up an xG right around 1 (or slightly less by some accounts) against Tottenham’s shaky defense manage against Virgil Van Dijk and company? None of the options seem all that great.
Then again, Burnley managed a draw against Liverpool at the weekend, so who knows. The Reds have looked a bit wobbly at times in the restart. That’s why they play the games.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Liverpool
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: 12:15 PM PT | 3:15 PM ET | 8:15 PM BT
US TV: Streaming on Peacock. Here’s a bit more about NBC’s new platform as it affects Premier League broadcasts for next season. Additionally, if you sign up for a Peacock account from an Android device, you get three months of the with-ads service for free.
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