Arsenal v Liverpool: Which team has the best attack?

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An early Christmas treat in the Premier League sees Arsenal play host to Liverpool on December 22.

The clash between fourth-placed Liverpool and fifth-placed Arsenal already looks set to be a pivotal game in the race for Champions League football next season.

And having shipped in 20 goals apiece this season - the joint-worst defensive record in the top six – you will be hard-pressed to find someone predicting a stalemate on Friday.

The array of attacking talent set to be on display only heightens the expectation surrounding this match, but who will come out on top?

Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League

Recent history = goals

Arsenal v Liverpool has become a standout fixture in the Premier League calendar given the sheer volume of goals it has produced in recent seasons.

Indeed, the last 10 league meetings have brought about 42 goals, including 21 in the last four games alone.

A goalless draw back in August 2015 means a thriller is by no means a guarantee, but with Liverpool only trailing the Manchester clubs for goals scored and Arsenal also behind Chelsea, neither side is short of confidence up front going into Friday's match.

Arsenal are currently averaging 2.4 goals per league game at home this season. Their 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in early December saw their perfect record at the Emirates come to an end, in what was the only occasion they have failed to score two or more goals at home this campaign.

Meanwhile, Liverpool's opening-day 3-3 draw at Watford – which saw Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah score one apiece - was a sign of things to come for the Reds on the road, as though they have averaged 2.7 goals away from home, they have tellingly kept just two clean sheets in the process.

Arsenal v Liverpool - Premier League

Early-season warning

Liverpool's prolificacy in front goal continued when they turned on the style to beat Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield in late August.

And while Arsene Wenger surprisingly omitted summer signing Alexandre Lacazette from the starting line-up, Firmino, Sane and Salah once more put in a devastating display in the absence of Philippe Coutinho – whose back problems coincided with interest from Barcelona towards the end of the transfer window.

Firmino got the ball rolling after 17 minutes, before Mane kept up his record of scoring in every league game against Arsenal as a Liverpool player when slotting in their second, having netted in both fixtures during the 2016-17 campaign.

Salah then got in on the act when sprinting 70 yards unopposed to score Liverpool’s third on the break before substitute Daniel Sturridge added a fourth late on.

It proved to be the hallmark of Liverpool's performances to come.

Arsenal v Liverpool - Premier League

Quick starters, fast breakers

No side in the Premier League has scored more goals in the opening half-hour than Liverpool this season, with the Reds netting 13 times in the first 30 minutes.

This ability to put teams on the back-foot from the off has played into one of their other strengths – the swift counter-attack.

Thanks in part to the speed of Salah and Mane, Liverpool have been willing to welcome pressure in the knowledge that this duo can punish sides on the break.

Nowhere was this electrifying pace more evident than at West Ham, as Mane and Salah broke from a corner for the latter to score in the 21st minute en route to a 4-1 victory.

In total, Liverpool have scored seven goals from fast breaks this season, a remarkable feat given 11 sides have registered zero strikes in this category.

Arsenal are among those with no goals in this area, though they only trail Liverpool by seven league goals this term, and when analysing the Gunners' attack, there's one shock statistic which ultimately stands out.


Heading for victory?

The variety of how Arsenal have scored their goals this season gives Jurgen Klopp much to ponder ahead of Friday's meeting.

Although Chelsea lead the way with nine headed goals this season, thanks mainly to Alvaro Morata, Arsenal trail closely on eight.

This will come as a surprise to those who simply associate Arsenal with intricate passes around the box as they look to carve out the perfect opening, but it's an approach which has sent them on their way, and dug them out of trouble, in recent weeks.

Olivier Giroud - who misses the game against Liverpool through injury - headed in from an Alexis Sanchez cross to steal a point at Southampton earlier in December, while it was Mesut Ozil who provided the ball in for Shkodran Mustafi to head in the opener against fierce rivals Tottenham in November.

Southampton v Arsenal - Premier League

And when you combine the delivery of Ozil and Sanchez with Liverpool's vulnerability from set-pieces, you have an avenue Wenger will most certainly look to exploit against Klopp's side.

It's clear both managers have their work cut-out defensively going into this mouth-watering fixture, so will it become a case of simply outscoring the opposition? Only time will tell.

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Olivier Giroud
Alexis Sanchez
Mohamed Salah
Roberto Firmino
Philippe Coutinho

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