English Premier League preview for Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Arsenal enters Sunday's showdown 11 points ahead of Liverpool, knowing that a win will reclaim the top spot.

English Premier League preview for Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Liverpool was 15 points ahead of Arsenal and aiming for a historic quadruple when they last played a league match at The Emirates. [David Klein/Reuters]

Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Where: Emirates Stadium, London, United Kingdom

Time: 4:30 p.m. (15:30 GMT)

When Liverpool last played at Emirates Stadium, they were 15 points ahead of Arsenal and chasing a historic quadruple.

In the seven months since that game last season, a lot has changed.

The Gunners head into Sunday's game 11 points ahead of Liverpool, knowing that a win will return them to the top of the standings.

Liverpool is now tenth in the Premier League after a difficult start to the season, with only two victories in their past five games.

Both clubs are in different stages of their growth. While Jürgen Klopp's bandwagon looks to have to a halt after six years, Mikel Arteta and his youthful team appear to be on the verge of restoring glory to Islington.

Arsenal's rebirth under Arteta is reminiscent of Klopp's early years at Liverpool: exciting new signings who hit the ground running, players returning from injury to become crucial cogs, and the reawakening of a disillusioned public.

The clash of two clubs with similar philosophies promises to be exciting.

Creating title credentials

Arsenal has won seven of their first eight games. However, there is still considerable hesitancy in labeling the squad as a championship contender.

The club's tendency to fail at crunch time, as seen by their fourth-place finish to Tottenham last season, casts doubt on their capacity to continue the drive.

Aaron Ramsdale stated last week that his teammates had "a fire blazing inside" as a result of the previous season's fiasco.

Although it is still early, this fire appears to have kindled a renewed firmness in Arsenal.

Manchester City's signings of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko have given strength to Arsenal's vulnerable underbelly. While their early-season results were attributed to poor opposition, their triumph over Tottenham last week cemented their status as title contenders.

Defeating Liverpool would solidify this label.

Liverpool had previously owned Arsenal's number.

Liverpool are struggling, but they have history on their side.

Arsenal last defeated them in the league in July 2020, when the Reds had already clinched the title in the COVID-enforced prolonged season.

Arsenal's previous victory came in April of 2015.

In all, the two teams have faced 60 times in the league, with Liverpool winning 25 times and Arsenal winning 16.

Liverpool has scored three or more goals against Arsenal on 11 times under Klopp.

While Liverpool's defense has been fragile this season, it may take heart from the fact that the Gunners have failed to score in their past six meetings in all competitions.

The struggle of the defenders

Virgil Van Dijk has clearly established himself as the league's top defender since joining Liverpool in 2018.

But that status is now under jeopardy. William Saliba, a 21-year-old French center-back, is his main contender for the title.

Van Dijk's shaky start to the season has coincided with Saliba's commanding start in the Premier League. At the Emirates, his combination of aggressiveness and assurance at the back has already earned him a fan favorite.

Van Dijk has fallen well short of the lofty standards he established at Liverpool. The Dutchman is the backbone of this Liverpool club, and his defensive shortcomings this season have contributed to the team's frailty.

Jesus must have paid careful attention to how Brighton's Leandro Trossard ghosted by the Dutchman last week at Anfield.

Klopp's initial selection problems

In the midweek Champions League game against Rangers, Klopp switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Darwin Nunez playing in front of an offensive line that included Mohammed Salah, Diego Jota, and Luis Diaz.

It remains to be seen whether Klopp will stick with this setup against much tougher competition.

There is also a personnel choice to be made, with Nunez and Roberto Firmino battling for the starting slot. While Nunez has had a sluggish start at Liverpool, he looked smart against Rangers and might be a troublesome presence for the Arsenal defense.

Firmino is Liverpool's leading scorer this season, and his deft movement may allow him to slide between Arsenal's powerful center-backs. The Brazilian enjoys playing Arsenal, and if he scores tonight, he will become the match's all-time leading scorer.

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