As much as injuries, and scheduling differences, and form, and starting the season while the transfer market remains open, the trio of international breaks which halt league action in the first half of the season is simply another hurlde that clubs must find a way to utilize as much as they simply hope to get through them without new issues arising. Arsenal did this perfectly with the first break, moving past three opening losses to adjust the lineup and start this current unbeaten run. Hopefully, given the extra week to prepare, not only is the squad as healthy as possible, but that the coaching staff is sufficently ready for Saturday’s test.
As you can probably guess, Arsenal do not have a great recent history against Liverpool, especially since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp. The Gunners have just three wins in their last 15 matches, but they have all come in the last five matches. Now two of those are draws that ended in PK victories in the Community Shield and League Cup, but there are signs of improvement beyond this current season’s run. Saturday will be Arsenal’s chance to get their first win at Anfield in the Premier League since 2012 (Ramsey & Carzola scored in a 2-0 result that day).
- Bernd Leno
- Nuno Tavares
- Rob Holding
- Calum Chambers
- Mohamed Elneny
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Martin Odegaard
- Left Out: Eddie Nketiah, Pablo Mari, Cedric, Folarin Balogun & Arthur Okonkwo.
- Out: Granit Xhaka (knee) & Sead Kolasinac (left ankle).
- Earlier in the season Arsenal used the international break to their advantage, adding players as the transfer window closed, getting players back to full health and making the switch in goal. However, when a team is full of momentum not only can an international break halt that, but there is the worry that players will return injured. Luckily for Arsenal their sqaud returns nearly completely without issue. Only Sead Kolasinac picked up a knock, but if the squad’s 3rd choice left-back absence is the negative during this break, Gunners’ fans will gladly accept it.
- Going to Anfield, Arteta should expect to defend more than the side have in recent weeks and as such continue with the 4-4-1-1 formation. Smith Rowe and Saka will help provide coverage on each flank as Liverpool looks to overload the attack. And given their presence out wide, Sambi in the middle should be the ideal choice rather than going further defensive with Elneny alongside Partey. Aubameyang will stay high and drift from side to side to pressure the ball at times, with Lacazette helping hold the ball with the center mid duo while Smith Rowe and Saka attack up each side.
- Nuno Tavares has filled in nicely for Kieran Tierney in recent weeks and if Arsenal make it back into European competition next season that is a position on the field which the club now has the depth to avoid any impactful drop in talent. However, with Tierney looking fit from the Scotland matches I’d expect him to return to the backline.
- In the second half, Arteta can turn towards Odegaard, Pepe, and Martinelli to freshen the attack. If Arsenal can get to the 60th minute level, it would interesting to see if Odegaard’s addition and a switch to a 4-2-3-1 could provide enough offensive boost without leaving too many openings for Liverpool.
- Mikel Arteta has plenty of options. Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Mohamed Elneny in the midfield over Sambi? Pepe or Odegaard in for Lacazette? Perhaps Calum Chambers and the return of a back three with wingbacks? Despite these options, Arteta should not overthink the matchup and continue with both a formation and a squad that have brought the Gunners back into European contention.
How to watch
Saturday (11/20) at 12:30 pm ET / 9:30 am PT on NBC.
Arsenal - 1
Liverpool - 1
Despite the big test in from of the Gunners, they enter with little to lose. They’ve recovered from the season’s poor start and few will expect an away win at Anfield for Arsenal. A win on Saturday puts the club up into the top four and at worst a loss still leaves them tied for fifth, if Manchester United or Brighton manage three points this weekend. Mikel Arteta has gotten the side into an ideal position as we approach the middle third of the season.