Big Match Focus: Liverpool v Arsenal

Free-scoring Liverpool will aim to inflict back-to-back Premier League defeats upon Arsenal. Can Arsene Wenger's men respond?

The last two Premier League matches between the two sides have ended in a draw.   -  Getty Images

Arsenal will seek to bounce back from a now customary early season wobble when it travels to Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday – a side it was beaten by twice last season.

A rough-and-tumble 4-3 victory over Leicester City in the opening game of the season gave Arsene Wenger his first winning start since 2014.

But a debut goal from Jese Rodriguez capped a frustrating outing at Stoke City, where the Gunners were hustled to a 1-0 defeat last time out.

Liverpool won by the same score-line against Crystal Palace at Anfield having been involved in an opening weekend classic of its own – twice coming from behind and letting in a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw at Watford.

Wednesday's romp to a 6-3 aggregate win over Hoffenheim, booking a place in the Champions League group stages, served further warning of Liverpool's attacking prowess and made light of the ongoing absence of Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho.

Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez could be ready to return from a back injury as conjecture over his own future continues, although there should be plenty to hold the attention on the field on Merseyside this weekend.

Sadio Mane arguably provides the most potent goal threat in Jurgen Klopp's vibrant front three.   -  Getty Images

 

FORM GUIDE:

Falling foul of Stoke means Arsenal has now lost eight of its past 13 away matches in the Premier League (W4 D1 L8). Its previous eight losses on the road came across a 41-game period, during which time it won 22.

Goals look likely to be on the agenda, given Liverpool and Arsenal have had more shots on target than any other teams in the Premier League so far this season, with 18 and 16 respectively.

However, the Gunners should perhaps not believe all they hear about their opponents' flaky rearguard.

In shutting out Palace, Liverpool made it three home clean sheets in a row in domestic competition. The last time it kept four consecutively in England's top flight was back in September 2013 under Brendan Rodgers.

PLAYER HEAD-TO-HEAD (Sadio Mane v Alexandre Lacazette)

Sadio Mane scored Liverpool's winner against the Eagles and arguably provides the most potent goal threat in Jurgen Klopp's vibrant front three.

With three goals and two assists the Senegal international has been involved in five goals in his past five Premier League starts.

However, his colleagues in Liverpool's defence must contain a masterful goal poacher in Alexandre Lacazette.

Alexandre Lacazette – a club-record signing from Lyon – scored on his league debut and has 77 goals from 97 starts since the beginning of the 2014-15 season.   -  Getty Images

 

The France international – a club-record signing from Lyon – scored on his league debut and has 77 goals from 97 starts since the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

It means he averages a goal every 109 minutes, with Mane's goals coming every 199 minutes over the same period.

TOP-SIX APPEAL:

Klopp and Wenger's sides boasted famously contrasting records against their top-six counterparts in the Premier League last season.

Arsenal won the fewest points in matches against the group of teams also encompassing Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and champions Chelsea, collecting nine overall and losing half of the 10 matches.

Wenger last led his team to victory against one of last year's top six when it won 2-0 at Manchester City in January 2015. It has been a sorry tale since then, with a return of seven defeats and five draws.

Liverpool outperformed everyone else in the top six 'mini-league', claiming 20 points from the 10 matches. That accounted for more than a quarter of the Reds' overall return of 76 points.

Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger's sides boasted famously contrasting records against their top-six counterparts in the Premier League last season.   -  Getty Images

 

HISTORY SUGGESTS:

Winning home and away against Arsenal last season – it was Klopp's men who imparted the opening-day misery 12 months ago – means Liverpool is chasing three consecutive wins over the Gunners for the first time since May 1998.

Regardless of which Premier League heavyweight is on top heading into the final stages, brace yourselves for late drama.

No fixture in Premier League history has produced more goals in the 90th minute or later than the 17 Arsenal and Liverpool have managed.

That could mean a particularly twitchy closing few moments for Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, given the 26 goals he has conceded against Liverpool is the joint-most the ex-Chelsea man has let in versus anyone in the league, along with Manchester United.

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