Ask any Liverpool fan on the morning of 12 August – the day of their opening 2018/19 Premier League game – if they thought their team would be six points clear at the summit midway through the season and they’d have embraced it as the stuff of dreams. Yet here we are, with Jurgen Klopp’s men now the bookies’ favourites to lift the title following a perfect December: thus far, at least.
The last time Liverpool dropped points in the Premier League was eight weeks ago and that was against Arsenal, who are the Reds’ opponents today in the reverse fixture. While the red half of Merseyside can realistically envision an end to the 29-year league title drought, the red of North London is again preoccupied with finishing in the top four and earning a return to the Champions League after two seasons away. It’s rarely dull when these two juggernauts clash, so let’s look at some of the standout statistics ahead of Liverpool v Arsenal this evening.
Last six Premier League games
Liverpool: W6, D0, L0, F17, A2, Pts 18
Arsenal: W3, D2, L1, F13, A9, Pts 11
Since being held to a draw at the Emirates Stadium at the start of November, Liverpool have amassed eight league wins on the trot to go from trailing Manchester City by two points to opening a seven-point lead over the champions. The Reds are just three wins short of their Premier League record sequence of 11 in a row, which they earned in the latter weeks of the 2013/14 season. Coincidentally, that run started with an Anfield victory over Arsenal.
Defensively, their goals conceded tally of seven is the joint second best of any team at this stage of a Premier League season. While for all the talk about Liverpool not having the same attacking fluency as last term, their current haul of 43 goals is two more than they had at the midway point of 2017/18.
Arsenal’s defeat at Southampton two weeks ago was the only one they’ve had in their last 17 league matches. Although they have failed to win any of their three away games in December, their last victory on the road coming at Bournemouth five weeks ago. Also, their 1-0 win over Huddersfield earlier this month is their only clean sheet in the last 12 Premier League games, but they have scored in every league match since the 0-2 opening day defeat to Manchester City, who are also the only team to have earned a clean sheet off Liverpool in the league so far this season.
Premier League head-to-head record
As two of the Premier League’s six ever-present clubs, there have been some classic meetings of these two giants of English football over the years. Unsurprisingly, they are closely matched in Premier League terms, with Liverpool shading it by four wins. Two of those came in the clubs’ most recent Anfield clashes, Arsenal last taking a point at this ground almost three years ago in a pulsating 3-3 draw in which Joe Allen scored a stoppage-time equaliser for the Reds.
The Gunners haven’t won at this venue since September 2012, a 2-0 victory in the early days of Brendan Rodgers’ reign. Indeed, Arsenal’s last victory against Liverpool was in August 2015, a 4-1 romp at the Emirates. In seven subsequent meetings, there have been three victories for the current league leaders and four draws, including their most recent clash eight weeks ago.
When it comes to Liverpool vs Arsenal at Anfield in the Premier League, there is no shortage of classic moments: Robbie Fowler’s four-minute hat-trick in 1994, a 4-0 Reds romp at Christmas in 2000, Neil Mellor’s outrageous stoppage-time winner, Peter Crouch’s hat-trick in 2007, Andrei Arshavin going one better during the 4-4 epic a couple of years later, Pepe Reina’s injury-time howler on the opening day of 2010/11, Liverpool scoring four in the opening 20 minutes in 2014, a bandaged Martin Skrtel heading a last-gasp equaliser the following season. Will there be another defining moment to add to the collection after tonight’s clash?
Last Anfield meeting
Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal, August 27 2017
Liverpool had scored three, four and three in Klopp’s first three Premier League meetings against the Gunners and they again proved the scourge of Arsenal in the opening weeks of last season. From the moment that Roberto Firmino opened the scoring on 19 minutes, this turned into a Sunday afternoon stroll for the home side against an Arsenal outfit who displayed all the feeble traits that would come to define Arsene Wenger’s final season at the club. Indeed, the Gunners did not register a solitary shot on target.
Sadio Mane doubled the lead shortly before the interval and in the second half, Mohamed Salah scored a memorable third. A swift Liverpool counterattack from defending a corner saw him dispossess Hector Bellerin a full 70 yards from goal before a blistering solo run ended with him slotting past Petr Cech. The scoring was completed in the 77th minute by Daniel Sturridge, who had come off the bench to cap a marvellous day for Liverpool. This was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s final appearance for Arsenal. Ironically, he would join the Merseysiders four days later on transfer deadline day.
Battle of the league’s leading marksmen
Tonight’s game features the two leading scorers in the Premier League, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hoping to add to his 13 strikes and Salah just one behind on 12, the division’s joint-second highest tally along with Harry Kane.
With 145 goals in 53 Premier League meetings between these two, the clash of Liverpool and Arsenal has an average of 2.74 goals per game. Prior to the 1-1 draw at the Emirates in November, the previous five meetings saw 27 goals, giving an incredible average of 5.4 goals per game.
Of the 36 players in the matchday squads for the previous instalment of this fixture 16 months ago, 11 have moved on to other clubs either permanently or on loan. Loris Karius, Emre Can (starters), Marko Grujic, Ragnar Klavan and Danny Ward (subs) are not currently with Liverpool. While six of Arsenal’s 18 that day (Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez started: Olivier Giroud, David Ospina, Theo Walcott, and Francis Coquelin were subs) are not in Unai Emery’s squad.
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