EPL

Big Match Focus: Liverpool v Arsenal (Saturday 17:30 BST)

By Sports Desk August 22, 2019

The Premier League's top two in this embryonic 2019-20 season go head to head on Saturday as Liverpool host Arsenal.

The two sides took contrasting approaches to the transfer window, with European champions Liverpool largely setting for the same squad again, as Arsenal splashed out on Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney and David Luiz.

But both tactics have been rewarded with early season results, meaning the division's only remaining 100 per cent records are on the line at Anfield.

At least one of those winning starts will end and, with the help of Opta data, we take a look at the intriguing contest ahead.

 

CAN ARSENAL BREACH FORTRESS ANFIELD?

Arsenal will have their work cut out if they are to end a miserable run of six Premier League games without victory at Anfield, a stadium where they have lost 13 times in the competition - second only to Manchester United's Old Trafford.

That stretch of six matches has also seen the Gunners concede at least two goals per game and a concerning 22 in total.

Liverpool are not in the business of dropping points at home and, in fact, they are unbeaten in 41 matches there. Only Chelsea's sensational 86-match streak, that ended in October 2008, can top that.

Far from flat-track bullies, the Reds' form is dominant against the recognised 'top six', too, against whom they are unbeaten in 18 at Anfield, winning 10.

Last season's 5-1 win for Liverpool in this fixture provides a reminder of just how badly things could go wrong for Arsenal.

 

HEAD TO HEAD: MOHAMED SALAH V NICOLAS PEPE

Mohamed Salah scored in that demolition and will aim to star again on Saturday. In the visiting dressing room, Pepe will hope to echo the Egyptian's impact following a club-record transfer.

Pepe's statistics in his final season with Lille were similarly outstanding to Salah's in the last campaign at Roma that saw him earn the Liverpool move.

Salah had 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 in total or one every 95.6 minutes. Pepe, meanwhile, scored an impressive 22 and also laid on 11, with his 33 goal involvements occurring every 100.8 minutes.

There were comparisons to be drawn between their styles, yet Pepe perhaps surprisingly attempted more dribbles (213 versus 70) and won more fouls (108 versus 26) than Salah, who is renowned in the Premier League for his close control and ability to draw challenges.

Arsenal will hope Pepe can translate his form to English football with the same success.

 

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool's home record might worry Pepe and Arsenal, but their outstanding form is not confined to Anfield. The Reds are enjoying a club-record Premier League run of victories (11 matches), and another win on Saturday would see them tie their all-time league streak of 12.

Arsenal will surely have to stop Klopp's attack to get a result.

The last time Liverpool dropped points in the Premier League was a goalless draw against Everton in March. The same result against fellow rivals Manchester United a week earlier was the only other time in 32 league games they have failed to score.

Arsenal - on a three-match top-flight winning run - have not won four on the bounce in almost a year, while victory would also see the Gunners triumph in the first three games of a Premier League campaign for the first time since 2004-05, when they were last defending champions.

 

HISTORY SAYS...

Expect goals! Clashes between Liverpool and Arsenal have had 155 - more than any other Premier League fixture.

While Salah is a threat, Roberto Firmino will hope to be in the mix again, too, as the Brazilian has seven goals in four games in this fixture at Anfield.

Where Liverpool's front men could be backed to fire, though, the same might not be true of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He has scored just three goals in 13 games against 'top six' opposition, compared to 31 in 38 against the rest of the league.

Liverpool will certainly be favourites - unbeaten in eight against Arsenal, their best such run since February 2000 - and Klopp has never lost to the Gunners.

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    Lampard's tenure at Chelsea got off to a pretty poor start, as his side went down 4-0 to United at Old Trafford and the Blues did not manage a victory over a fellow "big six" club until they faced Tottenham in December.

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    HEAD-TO-HEAD: KEPA ARRIZABALAGA v BERND LENO

    With neither side particularly defensively oriented, the two goalkeepers could find themselves busy on Tuesday – and Kepa will be particularly eager for a big performance.

    The Spaniard was again in the spotlight in Chelsea's defeat to Newcastle United, with many of the opinion he could have done more to prevent Isaac Hayden's winner deep into second-half stoppage time.

    It has since come to light that, of the goalkeepers to play five or more times in the Premier League this season, only Angus Gunn (54.55 per cent) has a worse save percentage than Kepa (57.14 per cent).

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    FORM GUIDE

    Chelsea have lost six times at Stamford Bridge across all competitions this season. The last time they suffered more home defeats was in 1994-95 when the Blues lost seven games on their own turf.

    Arsenal do not exactly boast an inspiring away record, though, and they have won just one of their past 10 Premier League matches on the road.

    Lampard is a popular figure among Chelsea fans, though his team has already lost as many times this term as Maurizio Sarri's side did in all of the 2018-19 season.

    But despite the relative troubles of both sides, their futures could be bright. After all, only Norwich City (6,245 minutes) have played under-21 players more frequently than Chelsea (5,736 minutes) and the Gunners (4,091 minutes).

    One of those young players to have flourished for Arsenal is Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian has netted nine goals in 10 starts across all competitions in 2019-20, and he could become the first 18-year-old to score in successive Premier League games for the club since Nicolas Anelka in 1998.

    HISTORY SAYS…

    Chelsea are looking to complete a Premier League double over Arsenal for the fifth time (2005-06, 2009-10, 2012-13 and 2015-16). Only Liverpool and Man United (both five times) have done this against the Gunners on as many as five occasions.

    Lampard is looking to become the first English Chelsea manager to do the league double against Arsenal since Dave Sexton in 1969-70.

    Arsenal are winless in their past seven Premier League away games against Chelsea (D1 L6) since winning 5-3 in October 2011. However, no team has won more Premier League away games at Stamford Bridge than the Gunners (seven).

    The Blues have lost once in their past eight home London derbies in the Premier League (W6 D1), although it came last time out against West Ham in November. They have not lost successive local clashes in the league at Stamford Bridge since October 1999, when the second defeat in that run came against Arsenal, the first was to West Ham.

    The Gunners are winless in 24 Premier League away games against 'big six' teams (D9 L15), since a 2-0 win at City in January 2015.

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