Two wins from two represent a perfect start to our newest Premier League campaign.
A 1-0 away win over Newcastle and a tough but rewarding 2-1 victory over Burnley at The Emirates has given us the ability to avoid clawing back a deficit over our rivals from the very start.
A distinct advantage maybe, but our first test from the so-called ‘Big 6’ is upon us, and it’s at a place we haven’t won at since 2012.
That’s seven years too long, but Anfield is a tough place to go, and Liverpool are a dangerous side who have ruined us repeatedly since that 2-0 win seven seasons ago. Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah have never failed to score against us.
So, quite the task ahead of us then.
Unai Emery knows this, and jokingly stated that we didn’t want to play Liverpool at any point, but is there a good time to play them?
The two games they’ve played thus far there have been weaknesses to claw at. Against Southampton, the second half was predominantly Saints and they were unlucky to come away with nothing. Even in their first game against Norwich, the Canaries opened them up on more than one occasion.
Virgil Van Dijk has looked less like the superhero which had bossed it last season, and could their attack be a tad tired after playing uninterrupted for around two years?
Let’s hope so.
Good news on the injury front. Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil have been declared fit and have taken part in full training.
Unai Emery has hinted that Nicolas Pepe will play a larger part in this game, but that doesn’t normally suit Emery’s tactics in a tough away game. Alternatively, Pepe could start ahead of Lacazette or Aubameyang but that doesn’t seem likely, with both on red hot form.
Mesut Ozil will most likely start from the bench, and with Matteo Guendouzi and Dani Ceballos starting so well in our last game, Xhaka could be sat next to Ozil.
Our long term absentees are still working their way to fitness, so Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding – what constitutes about 75% of a regular defence – will be looking at October for a return.
Player to Watch
Out of the three, the Brazilian is probably less prolific in front of goal, but not against us. He always scores the first goal, and sets the tone for a rough game with his approach. He started the change in momentum in their last game, and Firmino will no doubt lead from the front and give our defenders a torrid time. Shut him down and give him no space, and Salah and Mane will struggle.
How this could go
The home fans will buoy the players, and Liverpool will go from the off – that much we have learned from our previous encounters. We have also learned that they drop off in the second half in both of their fixtures this season, so we need to weather the first half storm if we are to hold onto a chance of victory.
Klopp will want his side pressing, but with Dani Ceballos, we have a player that could convert the pressure on us, into a viable counter-attacking opportunity. He moves the ball quickly and links up well with our boys up top. If Ceballos is on his game, we have the answer to the Liverpool press.
For once, we can go into this game with a little confidence. Our attack is gluing together and resplendent with goals, and Liverpool are showing chinks in their armour when compared to their imperious form last season.
We have what it takes to send a message this season. That we have improved and we can be a real threat. Fitness permitting, this is where our season starts.
Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – Why not – 2-1 to The Arsenal