What do Liverpool have to do to get back on track?
To say this season hasn’t gone according to plan for Liverpool is somewhat of an understatement. It’s clear there will be a fair bit of work to do over the summer in a bid to get the Reds back on the title-chasing track.
It’s been a tough season for Jurgen Klopp the normally smiling, effervescent German has been under pressure and looked less than happy at Liverpool’s poor title defence. He’s lashed out a several points this campaign, the latest outburst was directed this week at England manager Gareth Southgate. Klopp isn’t happy at the reasoning behind Southgate’s dropping of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
One of the reasons Arsenal have looked so bright going forward recently is Martin Odegaard. The Norwegian has been a creative spark since he arrived in north London from Real Madrid. Added to his creative fizz is a work ethic that makes him just about the ideal player for any manager.
As our very own Sam Dean writes…
“Martin Odegaard may be an artist like Ozil, but he can also be an animal.”
If Arsenal are to win tonight you suspect Odegaard will have more than played his part.
LIVERPOOL XI TO FACE ARSENAL:Alisson, Fabinho, Thiago, Milner, Firmino, Mane, Salah, Kabak, Robertson, Phillips, Alexander-Arnold; Subs: Adrian, Wijnaldum, Jones, Tsimikas, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jota, Shaqiri, R Williams.
As expected Firmino returns to the starting XI after recovering from a knee injury – it will be his first start in three games. Jota is the man who makes way. The only other change from the side that beat Wolves 1-0 in March sees Milner come in for Wijnaldum.
The exciting, attacking team that caused West Ham problem after problem with their incessant attacking in the second half was needed after the other face of Arsenal – the sloppy, error-prone outfit – had gifted their hosts the easiest of a three-goal head starts.
This Janus-like quality of Arteta’s side has been seen all too often for their fans and manager’s liking and it’s becoming one of the cliches of the season to ask before any Arsenal match: ‘which Arsenal will turn up today?’ A sort of France rugby stereotype transposed onto the round-ball game in north London.
The same question can equally be asked of their opponents today. Will the swashbuckling side that won the Premier League at a canter last season appear at the Emirates or will it be the cumbersome outfit that has recently proved to be all too easy to beat?
Liverpool are 36 points worse off than at the same stage last campaign. Not only that but the feared attack that used to scare sides has looked blunt, predictable and all too easy to defend against – they’ve only scored four goals in the Premier League in the past two months.
The break may well have done both sides good – a chance to regroup and draw a line under recent form. Both sides will have their eye on their European ties coming up but Arsenal are in need of a win to climb up the table.
Arsenal have injury doubts over both Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe ahead of the clash with Liverpool.
Saka pulled out of England duty last week due to a niggling hamstring issue while Smith Rowe suffered a hip injury while away with England Under-21s.
The rest of Mikel Arteta’s squad are fit and available. Martin Odegaard’s ankle injury suffered which he picked up with Norway is not a risk to him missing the game.
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino returns to the squad after a knee injury. The Brazil striker has missed the Reds’ last three matches but trained fully this week and is back in contention.
Historically, this match has always produced goals and it shouldn’t be any different this evening. Stay here for all the pre-match team news and action.
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