Mane to score: Three things we can expect to happen when Liverpool play Arsenal
COMMENT By Matt Farr
Premier League giants Liverpool and Arsenal are set to go head-to-head at Anfield on Saturday afternoon in what promises to be an entertaining affair.
Arsenal currently have a one-point lead over Liverpool heading into the tie, but there is much more than just a point at stake.
The title race has arguably become an unrealistic aim for both sides, with both now setting their sights on ensuring they finish among the Premier League’s top-four.
Ahead of the potentially mouth-watering clash, Football Insider has revealed three things we can expect to happen at Anfield:
There will be goals
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Throughout Premier League history, meetings between Liverpool and Arsenal have often been high-scoring affairs.
The two sides met in a seven-goal thriller on the first day of the current season, while goal-ridden ties remain etched in the memory from recent years.
The 5-1 defeat to Liverpool in 2014, for example, won’t easily be forgotten by Arsenal fans; while Liverpool received a humbling 6-3 defeat of their own in 2007.
If anything is guaranteed from Saturday’s tie, it will be that there will be goals scored at both ends of the pitch. Defensively, both teams have been poor this season – more so Liverpool than Arsenal.
Liverpool were cut wide open by Leicester earlier in the week, and Jurgen Klopp’s reluctance to spend money on defensive reinforcements in January, and in changing his system could leave them exposed again.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have kept just four clean sheets from their last 10 league games, and have areas to exploit of their own.
The return of Dejan Lovren from injury could be a welcome boost for Liverpool, but even the Croatian might do little to prevent the pending goal-fest.
It would also mean yet another day without a clean-sheet for under-fire goalkeeping duo Petr Cech and Simon Mignolet.
Both sides will want three points
It sounds like a no-brainer, but there’s more to it. The outcome of Saturday’s result could have significant bearing on the end of season standings.
Both sides will be determined to make up lost ground on the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham in the title race, while their resilience will also be tested by those below them in the table.
Manchester United and Everton, for example, have both been knocking on the door for quite some time, and are also in a strong position to finish in the top-four.
A defeat for either side could be the latest setback on their route to finishing outside the top-four, while even a draw would not be a welcome result – with Jose Mourinho’s United just one point behind Liverpool and two behind Arsenal.
Both Klopp and Arsene Wenger would no doubt much rather be setting the pace in their pursuit of Champions League qualification rather than chasing the eight-ball in the coming months.
It is also worth adding that the attempts from both sides to win the game will likely lend to a more open, exposed performance; which in turn will prove the earlier goal prediction.
Sadio Mane to score
If there is one area of Arsenal’s defence to exploit it is at left-back. Nacho Monreal has endured a rough patch of late, while Kieran Gibbs is by no means a significant improvement.
Monreal, 31, has been the first-choice full-back at the Emirates this season, but he has struggled for consistency, and has left Arsene Wenger with cause for concern in the position.
Gibbs, meanwhile, has been restricted to only intermittent first-team appearances this season. He appeared in Arsenal’s recent ties with Hull and Bayern Munich, but his lack of action could hinder him against a speedy customer like Mane.
The Liverpool attacker has been one of the standout performers at Anfield this term, netting 11 goals and contributing seven assists from his 25 appearances.
His movement, pace and eye for goal could cause real problems for Arsenal on the left-hand side, and it would come as little surprise to see the Senegal international bag a goal on Saturday.
That said, Alexis Sanchez could find similar good fortune against Liverpool’s back-line.
Football Insider prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal
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