The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Liverpool v Arsenal preview

We return to Premier League action on Sunday when we face Liverpool at Anfield.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke analyse our opponents' strengths, dangermen and areas we can target.


MC: We’re approaching Jurgen Klopp’s second anniversary as Liverpool manager, and the German probably now has his strongest starting XI. The Reds secured Champions League qualification on Wednesday evening following a 6-3 aggregate victory over Hoffenheim, with the second leg a bonkers, end-to-end, fast-paced contest that summarises the type of football Klopp likes.


MC: Klopp has favoured a 4-3-3 system since the start of last season, packing his side with energetic players who help to recover possession quickly and effectively. The most defensive midfielder, Jordan Henderson, is naturally more of a box-to-box player, while the most advanced forward, Roberto Firmino, is more of a natural attacking midfielder.


MC: Klopp’s emphasis upon counter-pressing – winning the ball immediately after it’s lost – means Arsenal must be careful when dispossessing Liverpool close to their own box. Some of the Reds’ combination play can be sensational, too – midfielder Emre Can rounded off a brilliant fast-paced counter-attack in midweek.

AC: In previous matches between these two at Anfield, Arsenal have not coped with the press well at all. They really haven’t, they’ve been unsettled, haven’t passed brilliantly, they’ve been knocked out of their stride. On turnovers, for the last three or four seasons, Liverpool have been fabulous at punishing Arsenal. I really hope lessons have been learnt.


MC: Sadio Mane was Liverpool’s outstanding performer last season, scoring 13 league goals by storming inside from the right flank to run in behind the opposition defence. The arrival of Mohamed Salah, who plays best from the right, means Mane now tends to start on the left – but he remains Liverpool’s main goal threat, often exploiting the space created by Firmino’s movement into deeper positions.

AC: I think Mo Salah is going to do really well this season and he had a brilliant second half against Watford. He was OK in Hoffenheim as well, so I think Salah and Mane are massive threats in this game. I would imagine that Klopp will start both based on looking to get behind Arsenal.


MC: Liverpool’s defence remains a real cause for concern, and they have particular problems when defending crosses. Similarly, they can be vulnerable at set-pieces – this isn’t a particularly tall side.

AC: Liverpool have been very open from set-pieces and I’m not convinced by their defence. If you can get at their back four, and get the ball into the box, I don’t think they have any great faith that they’ll be able to defend it. Stoke have a much more disciplined and settled rearguard than Liverpool, so it’s just a matter of getting the right service into the area. There’s definitely fragilities.


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