Anfield will play host to a Liverpool side fresh off the back of reaching the Champions League group stages and an Arsenal team looking to bounce back from a defeat to Stoke City last weekend this Sunday.
The Gunners will be boosted by the return of Alexis Sanchez, who has been agitating for a move all summer, whilst Philippe Coutinho remains out for the Reds, with a mystery ‘illness’.
Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana are still missing, and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has deputised for the former very well so far, is a doubt with a dead leg, meaning Joe Gomez is likely to start in his place.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has turned down £180,000-a-week in the hope of forcing a move to either Chelsea or Liverpool, is unlikely to play as the stand-off over his future at Arsenal heightens, especially against a side he is keen to join.
Liverpool’s 4-2 victory over 1899 Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off round second leg saw some sublime football played against a three man defence, which Arsenal are likely to employ, and they will be hoping to have the same success again, with the front three likely to be retained.
Less impressive was the defence, with Belgian football journalist Kristof Terreur breaking the news on Sunday morning that goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has been dropped. The Belgian keeper is not injured or ill, but will not even make the bench, with Loris Karius starting in his place, and Danny Ward providing the cover.
Jurgen Klopp’s pre-game press conference on Friday was flooded with questions on the Champions League draw, which he surely must be satisfied with, as well as the issue of the absent Coutinho.
“(Coutinho is) on our injury list. That hasn’t changed,” he said.
“(There has been) no contact with the Brazilian FA but if they want to check him, that’s how it is”.
It is likely that Coutinho will play for Brazil over the international break, and by the time he returns the window will be closed. Only then will he be reintegrated into the Liverpool team again.
Klopp, finally asked about the upcoming game, said, “They probably have Sanchez back for the first time; that gives this team another boost. That is an advantage for Arsenal.
“He is pretty much involved in each situation. He is not fixed on one position – very dominant. We don’t have to think too much about it. We defend in spaces so we don’t follow him all around the pitch.
“We need to stop the passes. If you’re too much concentrated on him then [Mesut] Ozil will show up, [Alexandre] Lacazette, [Theo] Walcott, [Danny] Welbeck…oh my God!”.
Despite coming so early on in the season, the game is shaping up to be an important one for two sides sharing similar ambitions.
“We need the help of the crowd. Let’s make it really difficult for them,” Klopp finished with.
He knows just how significant a good result would be – a win would make it seven points out of nine in the league, with Champions League qualification secured as well.
Whatever the score, expect lots of goals, with two sides very much attack-minded rather than being able to defend capably – a second 4-2 in the space of a week would not be a huge surprise.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 16:00 BST and is live on Sky Sports in the UK.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Martin Atkinson – the Premier League’s most elite official, Atkinson will be involved in the first of many clashes between the top six this season. Last weekend, he sent off Hal Robson-Kanu for West Brom; before that he was in charge as Manchester United beat West Ham 4-0 on the opening weekend.
Last season he saw Liverpool beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and also oversaw their cementing of the top four with the final day win at home to Middlesbrough.
He refereed Arsenal as they beat Sunderland and West Ham, but was also there for defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City.
Liverpool won both of their last two matches against Arsenal. They have not won three in a row against them since May 1998.
Liverpool: Karius; Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Robertson; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Arsenal: Cech; Holding, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette
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