If the next installment of Liverpool vs. Arsenal is anything like the previous one, the soccer world will be in for a treat.
Liverpool will host Arsenal on Saturday at Anfield in one of the most highly anticipated Premier League games of the season. The Reds beat the Gunners 4-3 last August in an opening-weekend thriller, and the teams face off again looking to inject confidence and positive momentum into their respective campaigns.
Why you should watch
History, urgency and entertainment. This is a can’t-miss contest because both teams are evenly matched, play a high-tempo, entertaining style of play and are two of the EPL’s current and historic powers.
Arsenal is in fourth place in the Premier League standings with 50 points after 25 games, while Liverpool sits fifth with 49 points after 26 games. The teams have little chance of catching Chelsea and winning the Premier League title, but both clubs are firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish and a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
The game will kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET, and fans in the U.S. can watch it live online via NBC Sports.
Let’s look at some pregame details:
Liverpool has struggled mightily in 2017, winning just two of 12 games in all competitions. If Liverpool is to bounce back from Monday’s disappointing 3-1 loss to Leicester City, a top-six opponent poses an ideal opportunity to do so.
Arsenal will play its first game in since Feb. 20, hoping to consign its recent rut to history. The Gunners lost four of their last 10 Premier League games and have only won once in its last five league games on the road. Their 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich on Feb. 15 in the UEFA Champions League spectacularly highlighted their troubles.
Liverpool should be able to cope without striker Daniel Sturridge, who is suffering from a hip strain.
But Jordan Henderson’s absence due to a foot injury could be problematic. Henderson is the Reds’ captain and midfield lynchpin, and they’ll miss his energy, passing and leadership, as former Reds’ skipper Steven Gerrard explains.
However, Dejan Lovren is expected to play for the first time since Jan. 31, having recovered from a back injury. He should partner Joel Matip in center defense.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil is expected to miss the game as he’s suffering from the flu. The playmaker left practice early Wednesday and wasn’t feeling well enough to travel from London to Liverpool with the team.
Mohamed Elneny also will miss out. An ankle injury is expected to sideline the Egyptian for three weeks.
However, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny should return to the lineup after overcoming calf and hamstring problems, respectively.
Prediction: Both sides boast a powerful attack but lament their questionable defense. There will be goals. 2-2 sounds about right.
Thumbnail photo via LiverpoolFC.com