Liverpool and Arsenal both want to establish themselves among the elite teams in the Premier League. The Reds and Gunners face off Monday at the Emirates Stadium seeking to enhance their own prospects for the 2015-16 season and dim those of their opponents.
Arsenal-Liverpool headlines the 10 Premier League games that make up the third round of action in England’s top flight.
Arsenal and Liverpool intend to mount challenges for the Premier League title this season. Neither is among the favorites to win the domestic crown — defending champion Chelsea and Manchester City currently hold that tag — but both sit securely in the tier below last season’s top two finishers in the Premier League standings. A win Monday will allow either the Reds or Gunners to further cement their top-four credentials and call themselves “challengers” … for at least another week.
Arsenal stumbled out of the gate, losing its season-opener to West Ham at the Emirates. The Gunners beat Crystal Palace last weekend, but their fans won’t be satisfied with their recovery until they convincingly beat a good team. Doing so at home also will help ease early-season fears.
Liverpool fits the bill as an opponent, having claimed all six available points this season. Liverpool rode its sturdy defense in wins over Stoke City and Bournemouth, but Arsenal’s high-octane attack will pose a much stiffer test to the Reds’ back line.
Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers, managers of Arsenal and Liverpool, respectively, historically have emphasized attractive, attacking soccer. However, fans hoping for a 90-minute demonstration of “the beautiful game” could be set for disappointment. Both managers have curbed their attacking instincts in big games in 2015, placing greater value on tactical balance and mental-fortitude than technical excellence when setting up their teams for pivotal games.
Jordan Henderson is racing against the calendar to be healthy enough to play against Arsenal. The Liverpool captain is questionable to play amid his battle with a foot injury. Henderson’s status will affect Rodgers’ game plan and how well Liverpool executes it.
Arsenal has no major injury or suspension news to report.
Premier League Round 3 schedule (home team listed first, all kickoff times ET):
Saturday, Aug. 22
Manchester United vs. Newcastle, 7:45 a.m.
Crystal Palace vs. Aston Villa, 10 a.m.
West Ham United vs. Bournemouth, 10 a.m.
Norwich City vs. Stoke City, 10 a.m.
Sunderland vs. Swansea City, 10 a.m.
Leicester City vs. Tottenham, 10 a.m.
Sunday, Aug. 23
West Brom vs. Chelsea, 8:30 a.m.
Everton vs. Manchester City, 11 a.m.
Watford vs. Southampton, 11 a.m.
Monday, Aug. 24
Arsenal vs. Liverpool, 3 p.m.
Thumbnail photo via LiverpoolFC.com
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