Arsenal vs Liverpool: Tactical Preview

It’s a championship six-pointer at Anfield. Liverpool takes on Arsenal with the chance to be top of the table at Christmas. The Reds are just a point off the summit despite an insipid goalless draw against Manchester United last time out. The Gunners represent a much sterner test. How will this one play out?

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PREDICTING THE LINEUPS

Liverpool’s substitutions in the 5-1 demolition of West Ham in the Carabao Cup midweek gave plenty of clues to the starting lineup this weekend.

LIVERPOOL

The early departures of Virgil van Dijk, Kostas Tsimikas, Wataru Endo, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Cody Gakpo likely confirm their inclusion. The minutes off the bench for Ibrahima Konate, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, and Luis Diaz do likewise. Alisson returns between the sticks. Curtis Jones was too good to leave out. That should give us Liverpool’s full lineup.

Predicted lineup (4-3-3): Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Kostas Tsimikas; Wataru Endo, Dominik Szoboszlai, Curtis Jones; Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz

ARSENAL

Arsenal meanwhile has their best XI fit. However, key squad players like Takehiro Tomiyasu, Thomas Partey, and Fabio Vieira will be out.

Predicted Lineup (4-3-3): David Raya, Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel, Jakub Kiwior; Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard, Kai Havertz; Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli

I truly wonder if Jakub Kiwior will be used as the left-back. Mikel Arteta likes to play with four centerbacks against elite forward lines. Oleksandr Zinchenko, the regular Arsenal left-back, was memorably beaten 1v1 by Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool’s late equalizer back in April.

TACTICS

We don’t often go immediately back to a prior game in this series. But the drab draw with United was particularly instructive.

Despite dominating the ball and taking 34 shots, Liverpool found it impossible to breach United’s leaky defense. A key issue was a lack of variety in Liverpool’s attack. All of the offensive players wanted to be narrow and attack at speed. The game demanded more patience in attack. The frontmen desperately needed to use more width.

Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones, both benched for the United game, performed brilliantly against West Ham. Liverpool’s rhythm was much better. The squad created much higher-quality chances. Jones is an incredibly good tempo setter. The former’s cameo as a left-sided central midfielder against United suggests his left foot could be used to provide width if he features against Arsenal.

Arsenal have been almost perfect out of possession at times this season. Their press against Brighton stopped arguably the best build-up team in the world from playing out. Declan Rice is possibly the best in the business at anticipating and vacuuming up loose balls.

Liverpool will need to use all of the tight Anfield pitch to play through Arsenal. Ruthlessness in counterattack is of the utmost importance.

PREDICTION

Arsenal is definitely a far better team than Manchester United. However, Liverpool generally have played better against the better teams this season. They may not have gotten the results to show for it in every contest though.

For example, the Reds arguably deserved to win against both Spurs and Brighton. The draw at the Etihad was fully deserved. Victorious performances against both Newcastle and Aston Villa were excellent. This type of game should suit Liverpool much better than the Man U double-decker bus fiasco. The home side arguably has a stronger substitutes bench, which if used correctly could be decisive.

Writer’s Prediction: Liverpool 3-2 Arsenal

Make sure to tune into American Scouser’s live pre- and post-match coverage streaming on YouTube, X (Formerly Twitter), and Facebook.

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