Arsenal and Liverpool meet at The Emirates on Saturday afternoon as both teams aim to build on an opening weekend draw. Arsenal drew a blank against Newcastle in a controversial match, while a quality Sebastian Larsson volley cancelled out Luis Suarez’s early goal as the Reds drew 1-1 with Sunderland.
Arsenal will still be reeling from the loss of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and the likely move of Samir Nasri to Manchester City. Emmanuel Eboue has also left for Turkish side Galatasaray. The midfield is further depleted by Alex Song’s and Gervinho’s three match bans from last week’s melee with Joey Barton and Jack Wilshere misses out through injury. Wenger will be looking to Aaron Ramsey to replace the creativity and composed passing of the departed Fabregas and Nasri, while 19 year old Emmanuel Frimpong will likely play in the defensive midfielder role.
Arsenal overcame Udinese 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier, with Theo Walcott’s early goal giving Wenger’s charges a significant advantage entering the second leg. The Gunners were far from their fluent best, however. Udinese could easily have snatched an invaluable away goal and compounded Arsenal’s recent woes. Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs also limped off to leave Arsenal with a defensive headache ahead of the encounter with Liverpool.
Liverpool had a more positive outing last Saturday, despite Larsson’s second half equaliser. Luis Suarez was energetic and dangerous and cemented his impressive performance with a goal. Andy Carroll was also a handful, while Charlie Adam and Stuart Downing provided decent service to their forwards. Luis Enrique enjoyed a decent debut at left back and 18 year old John Flanagan continued to impress at right back.
Now that Fabregas has left for pastures new, the lynchpin for Arsenal is undoubtedly Robin Van Persie. Despite his poor injury record, the Dutchman is a prolific Premier League striker. Van Persie scored 18 goals and notched up seven assists last year. The 28 year old also broke the Premier league record for most away matches in a row with a goal when he netted in nine successive league matches last term.
With all the upheaval at Arsenal and the lack of summer investment thus far, Liverpool are primed for an away victory at the Emirates. Carroll and Suarez will cause Arsenal rearguard problems, while Arsenal might struggle to create many chances without their departed playmakers.
A midfield of Ramsey, Wilshere and Song could prove a strong trio in the coming months, but Saturday’s contest might come too soon for Arsenal’s blossoming midfield.
Arsenal: Szczęsny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Frimpong, Ramsey, Rosicky, Arshavin, Walcott; Van Persie
Liverpool: Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Adam, Lucas, Henderson, Downing; Suarez, Carroll.