Arsenal, Liverpool

All the talk of Arsenal having a weak schedule comes to end as the host Liverpool for a first vs third matchup that shall determine for both clubs if their early success was due to a low quality of competition they’ve faced or simply being a lot better than people expected them to be.

There’s obviously a difference in style that will be quite clear to see. Even if Liverpool have been pouring on the goals lately through Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the 3-centre back formation the Reds use doesn’t allow for much creativity unless the ball reaches the front two players. The return of Philippe Coutinho might change that, but there’s a good chance Rodgers will not use him in the lineup just, liking what he’s seen from the tactics that enabled Steven Gerrard to play closer to the strikers while Jordan Henderson and Lucas played together in front of the defense.

For Arsenal, Mikel Arteta is returning from suspension, which means that he can once again free either Aaron Ramsey or Jack Wilshere to a more forward position, but it has been shown that Mathieu Flamini not playing might be difficult for Arsenal to overcome, being their only real defensive midfielder.

The focus in this match does go to the strikers. Olivier Giroud has scored 5 goals this season, adding 4 assists, looking like a much more complete and confident version of the forward Wenger landed from Montpellier last season.

Liverpool have the most prolific duo in the Premier League at the moment in Suarez and Sturridge, scoring 14 of their 17 goals so far this season. Sturridge is leading the Premier League with 8 goals, but Suarez has been the real force in Liverpool’s recent goal surge, actually playing much more than just a striker, helping Liverpool make up for their lack of wingers or an attacking midfielder at times.

Prediction – There’s a bit of a shake in Arsenal’s confidence, especially at home, with losses to Dortmund and Chelsea outside the league. Liverpool aren’t that good on most days, but should be enough to avoid a loss for a fourth consecutive time at this stadium.

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