Liverpool away at Emirates for showdown with Gunners

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool are in north London on Saturday evening to take on Gunners at Emirates Stadium.

After a two week international break, both teams are hungry for a win, needing points to move up the table as the final furlong of the Premier League campaign rounds the final turn. Liverpool will be looking to continue their road form and ‘away’ success in the new year, already having defeated Spurs and Hammers in London this winter.

Coming on the heels of successive wins at Wolves, on the strength of a Diogo Jota strike, and a repeat performance in Budapest to eliminate RB Leipzig from the Champions League, the Reds have faired better on the road in 2021.

Arsenal is always a tricky tie, and this one should be no different. Look for Arsenal to sit deep and try quick counters and over the top balls to Aubamayang and Lacazette, using the speed of their forward line to sneak in behind the Liverpool central defense.

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Nat Philips and Ozan Kobak have paired well in the time Klopp has utilized them as the center back pairing, although they are green and lack experience of playing together. Arteta will try to exploit this which he sees as an obvious weakness.

The return of Fabinho to his midfield defensive holding role has made for a potent midfield with Thiago and Gini Wijnaldum providing forward attacking midfield play. Fabs will be charged with helping to provide assistance to the backline in aerials and balls through the middle of the park.

If James Milner is called upon here to take Gini’s starting spot, he too has the defensive chops to assist on the defensive quarter. Naby Keita could also be called upon as he is the best attacking dribbling midfielder in the mix. Curtis Jones has had a terrific maiden season for the Reds at a tender age, and he too could see action on Saturday at Emirates.

Liverpool have been strong on the road

I look for Bobby Firmino to be fit to return as he plays well against Arsenal. With an in form Jota, hot and hungry to score goals at the moment, he could get the starting nod from the gaffer.

Liverpool will want to score an early goal, something which has eluded them for much of the new year, scoring the majority of their goals in the second half. This is one of the most glaringly obvious pieces of evidence in their drop in form, in midfield attack and creativity and forward final third finishing, which has been abysmal and sorely lacking at times.

This has forced the lads to chase games that in any other year (in the past 3), they would have had command of by halftime with the lower table opponents particularly.

Uncharacteristically, Liverpool has found themselves down a goal or two in the second frame for much of the new year. This is not something this team are used to, and they have had to learn on the fly, how to chase games.

The Reds will need to be in fine form for this tie as they need the points desperately if they fancy a top four finish. But the looming trip to Madrid come Tuesday will be in the back of everyone’s mind; players, coaches, and fans alike as the Reds are relishing a rematch with Los Blancos in their quarter-final tie in CL.

On the hop the Reds will play five ties over the next fortnight, counting the return engagement with Real in two weeks. After a season of many campaign defining moments this stretch of ties will largely determine the outcome and success of this Liverpool season. It is make or break time for the mighty Reds.