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    Arsenal vs Liverpool Match Preview


    Two heavyweights go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon as one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the opening weekend of the season sees Liverpool travel to the Emirates Stadium to play Arsenal.

    Both sides are expected to challenge for honours this season, with Arsenal taking part in the Champions League for the 19th consecutive campaign after securing their highest league position for 11 years of 2nd.

    The Jurgen Klopp factor comes into play when forecasting Liverpool's hopes this season as the German manager has been accustomed to success in his managerial career and has now had 10 months with his players to fully translate his footballing philosophy.

    Arsenal

    Although Arsenal finished above all their traditional rivals last season, losing out only to unheralded Leicester City in the title race, it wasn't enough to keep all the club's fans happy as some supporters staged protests in the final weeks of the campaign.

    Arsene Wenger's side trailed in the title race by only two points with 12 matches remaining but, while the Foxes barely but a foot wrong for the remainder of the campaign, Arsenal stuttered when the pressure was at its most intense and finished a distant second.

    The Gunners did suffer a succession of bad luck with long-term injuries, however, with Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere all missing large chunks of the campaign.

    Only Danny Welbeck remains a long-term injury concern for the club and they have been boosted by the arrival of midfielder Granit Xhaka, who was signed in a £30 million deal from Borussia Monchengladbach.

    It represents Wenger's only piece of major business in the transfer market after the club's £30 million pursuit of Jamie Vardy failed to come to fruition and the world class centre-forward, which many Arsenal fans have craved for so long, has as of yet failed to arrive.

    Whereas it was defensive frailties that had cost Arsenal most dearly in previous unsuccessful title challenges since their 'Invincibles' season of 2003-04, it was surprisingly a lack of firepower in the final third of the field that they found most damaging last season.

    If the club is to win a fourth league title under the guidance of Wenger, who takes charge for his 21st season, they will need to improve on the 65 goals they scored in the league last campaign, while also not caving into the pressure to which they have so often succumbed.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool's chances of success will be boosted by having plenty of midweek rest throughout the campaign having failed to qualify for European competition after finishing in their worst league position for four seasons of 8th.

    The Reds did manage to reach the finals of the Capital One Cup and the Europa League last campaign, contributing to a fixture-pile up that damaged their chances in the league, but their failure to win either competition means no repeat of the club's 63-game 2015-16 season.

    The lighter schedule may suit Klopp's men as the last time Liverpool were absent from Europe coincided with the club's closest attempt at winning the title since their last success in 1989-90, but they were famously pipped by Manchester City on the final day of the season.

    They are not expected to come as close to winning the title as they did under Brendan Rodgers in 2013-14, but they could surprise many after being the busier of the two sides in the transfer market in the summer.

    Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum will provide plenty of attacking intent after the club paid Southampton and Newcastle a combined £59 million for their services, but it was not in the offensive half of the pitch in which Klopp's side struggled for the majority of last season.

    It is more the additions of two goalkeepers and two centre-backs that could make the difference for the 18-time league champions this season after the club leaked 50 goals in the league last campaign.

    Loris Karius and former Gunners stopper Alex Manninger will challenge Simon Mignolet for the number one position, while Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan complete the quartet of new signings from the Bundesliga.

    Arsenal Team News

    Arsenal's only other summer signing Rob Holding, who arrived on a £2 million deal from Bolton Wanderers, could be thrust into action after Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertesacker were both sidelined with ankle and knee injuries respectively.

    Jack Wilshere is also a doubt with a knee injury, which ruled him out of Arsenal's recent tour of Scandinavia, while Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson have not recovered from the long-term injuries they sustained last season.

    Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny are not match-fit after remaining in action for France in the European Championship until the final on July 10, which they lost 1-0 to Portugal after extra time.

    Liverpool Team News

    Jurgen Klopp is expected to hand debuts to Georginio Wijnaldum, Sadio Mane and Joel Matip, who arrived at the club in the summer from Newcastle, Southampton and Schalke 04 respectively.

    James Milner and Daniel Sturridge are both doubts after sustaining heel and hip injuries, while Dejan Lovren is expected to recover from a knock he picked up in last weekend's impressive 4-0 win over Barcelona.

    Marko Grujic, a £5.1 million signing from Red Star Belgrade last season, is also set to recover in time from an ankle problem, but Lucas Leiva will miss the match with a hamstring injury.

    Joe Gomez and Mamadou Sakho are expected to spend a month of the sidelines, while Loris Karius will not be available for selection until October after undergoing an operation to repair a broken hand.

    Head-To-Head

    Liverpool have won only six of the last 38 encounters against Arsenal in all competitions and have failed to beat Arsene Wenger's team since the 5-1 drubbing they inflicted at Anfield in February 2014.

    Arsenal have won 18 of those 38 matches and last beat The Reds in April 2015 when three goals immediately prior to half-time helped them to a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.

    Both meetings between the sides last season ended in draws, with neither team being able to break the deadlock at the Emirates Stadium almost a year ago, while a more entertaining 3-3 draw occured at Anfield in January.

    With the first meeting between the clubs taking place in 1893, Liverpool lead the overall head-to-head 83 wins to 78, with 59 of the 220 matches ending in draws.

    Score Prediction

    Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1
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    Item Reviewed: Arsenal vs Liverpool Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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