With the commencement of possibly one of the most intriguing Premier League seasons within touching distance, I take a look at the opening weekend’s most exciting fixture on paper, Arsenal vs Liverpool, from the Arsenal perspective being a Gunners fan myself.
Both teams have had contrasting transfer windows, with Wenger finding it hard to add to his squad, whilst on Merseyside, Klopp has not held back spending a combined total of £68m on 6 players.
What to expect from Arsenal
Arsenal head into the first match full of confidence after a successful pre-season, which saw them snatch a late winner against the MLS All Stars, and see off Manchester City in Sweden. Yet without Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud for their clash against the Reds, it’s going to be a tough meeting for Arsene Wenger’s men, who might be forced to play inexperienced duo Callum Chambers and Rob Holding in the middle of defence.
New man Granit Xhaka will provide cover for the pair, but if ever Liverpool had a chance to make a bold statement on the opening day, then this is the time to do so. The timing of the fixture could be a blessing in disguise as far as they are concerned, as even with Daniel Sturridge out injured, Arsenal will struggle to field a strong starting XI, due to a mixture of; injuries, players not being match fit, and Wenger’s hesitation in the transfer market.
Liverpool’s Danger Men
New signing Sadio Mané could pose as a huge threat for the Gunners. The Senegalese winger’s hefty price tag certainly surprised many fans across England, but he is a player that fits Klopp’s style of play to perfection. His tenacity on the left hand side saw him rack up 11 goals and 6 assists in the Premier League last season. His ratio of 2.3 shots per game last season gives Liverpool a bigger threat going forward, and they now have a versatile player who can play anywhere across the forward line.
Under Jürgen Klopp, Divock Origi has emerged as strong competition for Sturridge for the striker spot at Liverpool, and with the latter being injured, Origi looks sure to start against Arsenal. He is a powerful striker, who could cause young Rob Holding a lot of trouble on his Arsenal debut. On his day, the Belgian forward can be unstoppable, as we saw in his performance against Southampton last season, in the 6-1 win.
Along with Origi, Phillipe Coutinho needs to ensure that Liverpool take advantage of the Gunners’ problems. The Brazilian showed his quality throughout last season, and was arguably Liverpool’s best player. He could be pivotal in their chances during this match if he can put pressure on the Arsenal defence with his unpredictable runs, and intricate passes.
Overall Season Preview
When it comes to Liverpool, you simply can’t tell where they’re going to finish, and the calibre of players and managers this year makes it even harder. With the likes of Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola joining the already established Premier League managers of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho in a managerial mastermind that promises to be exciting. The question is, where do Liverpool fit in?
Well, the fact that Liverpool have stuck with their manager, whilst Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City have all changed, could give the Reds a much needed advantage, with Klopp already adjusted to his side, and he can go into the season with confidence in his team.
Predicted league finish for Liverpool: 5th
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool