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Back Arsenal to score at least two goals on Sunday.
The Gunners carry a significant threat up top these days, while Liverpool’s defense is not as solid as it once was.
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The north London derby is, by definition, invariably an important game for Arsenal. But last weekend’s edition felt like a particularly key test for Mikel Arteta’s men, who went into the match as Premier League leaders.
Arsenal had enjoyed an excellent start to the season prior to the September international break, but their only meeting with a fellow top-six side had ended in a 3-1 defeat by Manchester United. Against Tottenham, Arsenal had the chance to show that they can compete against other sides with top-four – and possibly title – aspirations.
It was an examination they passed with flying colors. Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners against their arch-rivals; most impressively, they outdid them in every department.
The Gunners were always likely to dominate possession at the Emirates Stadium, but they did not fall into the trap of keeping the ball for its own sake. Their passing was sharp and incisive, and it tended to pick up speed once they entered the final third.
Tottenham fans might suggest that a moment of madness from Emerson Royal, who was shown a straight red card just after the hour mark, was the most decisive moment in the match.
But Arsenal were already 2-1 up by then, and the balance of play in the first few minutes of the second half made them the likelier scorers of a fourth goal even if numerical parity remained.
The visit of Liverpool to north London will provide another yardstick by which Arsenal’s progress can be measured. Bang in form when the Reds last visited the Emirates in March, Arteta’s side nevertheless lost the game 2-0.
Despite Liverpool’s patchy start to 2022/23, a home win in this one would make the rest of the Premier League really sit up and take notice.
After winning just two of their first six matches of the new season, Liverpool fans hoped that the international break would give the team an opportunity to recharge and refresh.
Most members of the club’s first-team squad were away with their countries for Nations League matches or pre-World Cup friendlies, so there was not much of a chance for Jurgen Klopp to drill his charges on the training pitch. But maybe a change of scenery would do them good.
Yet the 3-3 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion revealed many of the same problems that have dogged the Reds since the season got underway in August.
The press from the top of the pitch was not quite right. The midfield was at times overrun. The defense looked vulnerable whenever it was put under pressure. Liverpool looked oddly jaded both physically and mentally.
Remarkably, Liverpool have conceded the first goal in more than 70 percent of their Premier League games so far this term. A team that used to blow opponents away in the first 20 minutes of matches have become slow starters.
That is a worry for Klopp, whose side heads into the weekend 11 points adrift of the top spot (albeit with a game in hand). Another defeat here could in effect end their title chances in October.
In that aforementioned match contested by these two teams in March, Arsenal came flying out of the blocks. They were unable to make an early breakthrough, though, and Liverpool gradually settled into a rhythm.
There was not much to choose between the sides in terms of the final statistics – nine shots each and 52 percent possession for the Reds – but Klopp’s side were more effective in both boxes and won 2-0.
It is hard to see Liverpool registering a clean sheet this time.
They have kept only two in their seven Premier League matches to date and were fortunate to do so on one of those occasions, in the 0-0 draw against Everton. In their four away games across the top flight and the Champions League in 2022/23, Liverpool have conceded two or more goals in three of them.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have been hugely impressive going forward. Gabriel Jesus has made a massive difference up top, bringing not just goals to the table but also guile, link-up play, and the capacity to act as the first line of defense.
The Brazilian has knitted everything together and helped to make Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard look like even better players.
If Liverpool are to avoid defeat here, they will probably need to score more than once. Back an in-form Arsenal team to find the back of the net at least twice on Sunday.
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|Teams||Arsenal vs Liverpool|
|Location||Emirates Stadium, London, England|
|Time||Sunday, 9 October 2022, 11.30 AM EST|
|How to watch||USA Network, fuboTV|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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