Table toppers Liverpool take on fifth placed Arsenal in a crunch clash at Anfield as both sides eye a crucial win to keep their respective runs going.

Manchester City lost back to back games against Crystal Palace and Leicester, thus letting Liverpool open up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. That win over Newcastle changed the complexion of the title race, with Tottenham now Liverpool’s closest rival sitting in second. Additionally, Liverpool are the only team in the Premier League this season to have gone half the season unbeaten.

And history is by their side, as before this only three teams had reached this stage with an unbeaten streak, and all three went on the lift the title. The Merseysiders will be looking to end an incredible 2018 on a high note and what better way than to beat Arsenal and take a giant step towards winning their first league title since 1990.

However, for Liverpool to collect all three points, they need to tackle an obstacle in Arsenal. In the previous encounter earlier this season at the Emirates, it was Arsenal who dominated the Reds, after a late Alexandre Lacazette equaliser denied Liverpool all three points. Unai Emery would be hoping his side produce a repeat of that performance and deny Liverpool the honour of finishing 2018 on a high.

Arsenal, however have not been at their best lately. They sit fifth on the table, two points behind Chelsea and are in total contention to finish the season among the Champions League places. However, with many key players injured for Arsenal, they might lack the depth they would want against a side such as Liverpool, and their poor performance against Brighton during midweek showed just that.

Team News & Tactics

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp did not rotate his side for their Boxing Day clash against Newcastle, instead opting to keep his strongest possible lineup intact and in tandem. The German manager is not the least expected to make significant changes against an opponent such as Arsenal, and we are likely to see more or less the same lineup that thrashed Newcastle.

Milner is a big doubt for the Arsenal game with a hamstring problem. (AFP/Getty Images)
Milner is a big doubt for the Arsenal game with a hamstring problem. (AFP/Getty Images)

Among those who are injured for Liverpool, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez remain sidelined, although Trent Alexander-Arnold made his return against Newcastle, meaning the youngster could get a start against Arsenal. Virgil Van Dijk and Dejan Lovren will play in central defence for Liverpool, with Andrew Robertson at left-back.

One player who could be absent for this clash is James Milner. The midfielder was taken off during the midweek game with a hamstring problem, and there are less chances of him featuring. Liverpool however have Fabinho and Naby Keita pushing for starts in the central midfield roles.

Roberto Firmino, who has a formidable scoring record against Arsenal will take his place alongside Salah and Mane, while Shaqiri will likely start in the No.10 role.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, robertson; Fabinho, Keita; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mane; Salah

Arsenal

Arsenal, meanwhile still have persistent problems with their defence as Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi all remain sidelined. The German and Monreal could however be subject to a late fitness test, but are very much a doubt. That could let Laurent Koscielny retain his place alongside Sokratis, with Kolasinac and Maitland-Niles taking over at full-backs.

Aubameyang currently leads the PL scoring charts, one ahead of Liverpool's Mo Salah. (Photo courtesy: AFPGetty)
Aubameyang currently leads the PL scoring charts, one ahead of Liverpool’s Mo Salah. (Photo courtesy: AFPGetty)

It’s still unsure if Emery will include Mesut Ozil in the starting lineup against Liverpool after hauling the German off at half-time against Brighton. Additionally, Emery has recently preferred a midfield diamond where Ozil has no place. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also out for six weeks and Ramsey mostly not a starter, Arsenal do have creative problems.

Up front, Premier League top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and strike partner Alexandre Lacazette are penciled for a start, but it remains to be seen who Emery choses for the right side of attack. He does have another option in Iwobi, but the Nigerian is somewhat out-of-form and Emery might be forced to deploy Ozil there.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1) – Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ramsey, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Key Stats

  • Liverpool and Arsenal will be meeting for the 227th time in all competitions.
  • Arsenal are without a win in their last five trips to Anfield to face Liverpool in the Premier League
  • Liverpool have gone seven games unbeaten against Arsenal in all competitions
  • There have been 149 goals in Premier League matches between Liverpool and Arsenal
  • Liverpool have conceded just seven goals in their 19 Premier League games this season, and a clean sheet here will see a record for fewest goals conceded after 20 English top-flight games

Betting Odds

Favourable Bets

1. Arsenal Asian Handicap + 1.5 @ 1.650

2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.61

Underdog Bets

1. Correct Scoreline: Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal @ 9.00

Player to Watch

Mohamed Salah

In red hot form (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
In red hot form (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Liverpool are top of the league and these are different seaosn than previous seasons for Merseysiders. One reason for this rise is the form of Mohamed Salah, their talisman. Salah somewhat showed a dip in form earlier this season, but has since risen to second in the goalscoring charts, only one behind Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The battle begins here.

Salah will be keen to help Liverpool win all three points, but will also keep a close eye on the Arsenal goal and they to level things or even move ahead of Aubameyang in the charts. Overall, the Egyptian will be pumped to keep his team’s standards and keep scoring those precious goals.

Prediction

Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal

Since April 2015, Liverpool and Arsenal have played 7 times, and the Gunners are yet to register a win. Additionally Arsenal have not won at Anfield during their last five visits, infact they also conceded 17 goals during those games, including a 4-0 loss last season. However, as recent history suggests, games between these two teams bear plenty of goals and are mostly unpredictable.

Liverpool, this time are significantly stronger and well balanced as opposed to the Gunners, who are struggling with a lot of defensive injuries. Salah & co will be on hand to target the weak defence and ensure they get their share of the goals as well as the three points.

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