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Arsenal v Liverpool: Where the Premier League game will be won and lost

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A clash that has always excited over the years, Arsenal and Liverpool face off at the Emirates on Friday night.

But who will come out on top?

Attack v Attack

Goals are in the offing. Much has been made of Liverpool’s relentless attack this season. The so-called “Fab Four” of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were imperious in the demolition of Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, and domestically Liverpool have purred in attack too.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have scored 48 goals in their last 14 games in all competitions, with Salah particularly taking centre stage to lead the Premier League goalscoring charts.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool - Premier League

A repeat of the famous 4-4 draw at Anfield in 2009 is not completely out of the question. The Gunners are especially prolific at home. Only Manchester City have scored more goals at home than Arsenal this season, and neither defence has looked particularly secure so far this campaign. Expect goals, goals and more goals.

Both teams somewhat surprisingly drew 0-0 against lowly sides last week, but such scorelines are very much anomalies - Liverpool bounced back with a 4-0 win at Bournemouth at the weekend.

Their stalemate against West Brom was just the fifth time the Reds have failed to score in a Premier League home game under Klopp, while Arsenal’s multitude of creative options means a goal is never far away. Whoever scores most, wins.

Salah continues to surprise

His capture did raise plenty of eyebrows in the summer. Why did Liverpool splurge so much cash on a player Chelsea deemed surplus to requirements in the summer of 2015?

However, Salah's form has been nothing short of a revelation, as 14 goals from just 16 starts sees him top the goalscoring charts. Salah comfortably has the best shot conversion rate in the Liverpool squad, as the Reds have almost come to rely on Salah’s finishing.

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-EVERTON

What has taken Salah to the top of the charts has been his ability to get on the scoresheet more than once in a game. In four of his last 14 matches in all competitions, the Egypt forward has netted four braces. If he gets on the scoresheet against Arsenal, he will be hungry for more.

Cech closing on another record

Footballers often say they don’t think about the personal accolades, and while that may be true of younger players, more seasoned professionals start to think about their legacy in the game they are soon to leave behind. Friday night represents the perfect time for Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech to write another chapter in his illustrious career.

The 35-year-old is in line to make his 100th appearance for Arsenal, and with 199 clean sheets to his name, making his 200th shutout on becoming a centurion for the Gunners would be fitting.

Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League

He has previous, too, having kept 12 career clean sheets in his career against Liverpool. It will be difficult with Liverpool’s aforementioned attacking options but Cech will be doing everything in his power to ensure he gets that landmark shutout.

Both must be more clinical

Both of these teams recently had remarkably similar dips in form. Disappointing Liverpool draws against Everton and West Brom could easily have been turned into victories with the amount of possession and shots they had in both games.

Arsenal had the same issues against Southampton. Despite finishing the match having had 67 per cent of the ball, the Gunners struggled to create too many killer chances. At London Stadium against West Ham, creating chances wasn’t the problem, as Arsenal rained in 22 shots without scoring, before again struggling to kill off Newcastle at the weekend.

Arsenal v West Ham United - Carabao Cup Quarter-Final

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are two of the four top chance creators in the Premier League, with Arsenal creating more big chances than any rival in the top flight. Liverpool are third in that table. With an open game expected, chances will come, whoever takes them will take home the points.

Which defence crumbles first?

One thing that hasn’t helped the solidity of either side has been regular defensive changes. Injuries have hampered Wenger and Klopp, but neither seems to know what their strongest defensive unit is.

Klopp has rotated his side more than any other Premier League manager. Dejan Lovren has started the most Premier League games of any Liverpool defender, but even that is only 12 starts from 18 matches.

Nacho Monreal has become a central defender this season for Arsenal, to great success, but Wenger still seems unsure whether to go with a back three or four. Neither are likely to have a particularly solid look to them, and with so much attacking talent on the pitch, such vulnerability could get punished.

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Topics:
Football
Alexis Sanchez
Mohamed Salah
Philippe Coutinho

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