Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Liverpool

Emirates Stadium, London
Monday, August 24
3:00 p.m. EDT, 20:00 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Michael Oliver
    • Assistants: Simon Bennett and John Brooks
    • 4th Official: Neil Swarbrick
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 4 - 1 Liverpool
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 79 Arsenal wins, 83 Liverpool wins, 57 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: L-D-D-W // L-W
  • Liverpool's League Form: W-D-L-L // W-W
13 straight Premier League winning sides have also had the
league's best home record that season. Arsenal's Double
winning side of 2002 was the last title winner that did not.
You gotta win your home games.

Last year, the highest ranked team in the table that Arsenal successfully beat twice was 10th place Crystal Palace. They took four of six points from Manchester City and Liverpool, three from Southampton and Stoke, and just one from Chelsea, Manchester United, and Tottenham. They took nothing from Swansea. They took at least four points from every team placed 10th and below, dropping points to only four of the bottom 11 teams. All of that was good for finishing 12 points behind Chelsea.

Among the other teams finishing in the top nine, Arsenal beat only three of them at home, adding up to, you guessed it, 12 points dropped against the other five at the Emirates. Arsenal are already 0-for-1 in home games this year, losing 2-0 to West Ham (as if you needed to be reminded of that.)

If you want to win the league, you have to win your home games and steal enough draws in your tricky away fixtures. It might still be only August, but I get the feeling that this Monday night's encounter with Liverpool is going to set the tenor to which much of the autumn period will be played.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Wilshere (ankle,) Rosicky (knee,) Welbeck (knee)

"Well, now I see the problem. You have question marks on
your knee!"
Yesterday, Arsenal posted quotes from Arsene Wenger's press conference providing an update on Arsenal's injury situation, as they usually do in advance of any of their fixtures, whether it be Premier League, domestic cup, or Champions League. The entirety of those quotes totaled 58 words. The entirety of this paragraph is also 58 words, thought it was rambly...

But, that really goes to show you how little news there is right now. There's no change in status for anyone from last week to this week. There are no fresh injury concerns from the win over Crystal Palace and no suspensions to speak of either.

So, we focus on the long-term injured. Rosicky is "progressing nicely but he is far away." Word is that Jack Wilshere is expected to be back soonest; this will mark three weeks out of the four he is expected to be out. There were a few quotes earlier this week regarding the mysterious nature of Danny Welbeck's injury, which is something you never like to hear about an injury.

I would not expect any changes to the XI.

Predicted XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Giroud.

Liverpool Squad News

Out: Sturridge (hip,) Flanagan (knee)
Doubts: Allen (hamstring,) Henderson (foot)

Jordan Henderson came off after just 52 minutes on Monday.
Liverpool's long-term injured list includes two names, as Daniel Sturridge continues to recover from hip surgery, while Jon Flanagan will remain out until December as he recovers from a knee operation he had in April.

Elsewhere, Joe Allen has been out since picking up a hamstring injury in a friendly against Swindon Town this summer, while Jordan Henderson, who scored at the Emirates last year, was removed just after halftime from Liverpool's 1-0 win over Bournemouth last week with a foot problem that is currently being assessed.

Liverpool's predicted XI includes five players who were not with the club last season, including both fullbacks (ex-Southampton Nathaniel Clyne and ex-Charlton Joe Gomez,) and a new attacking line including ex-Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke and midfielder Roberto Firmino, acquired from Hoffenheim. Also, James Milner.

If Henderson can't start, my guess is Jordan Ibe will start wide with Emre Can and Milner sitting deeper, while Philippe Coutinho and Firmino will pull the strings behind Benteke.

Predicted XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez, Can, Milner, Ibe, Coutinho, Firmino, Benteke.

Current Form

Crisis over! Everything is better!

That's the way I felt after Olivier Giroud's 16th minute goal against Crystal Palace. That opinion changed straight back after Joel Ward's equalizer 12 minutes later. When all was said and done, Arsenal had a difficult result, but all three points in tow. They've climbed from 19th to 11th in the table. Progress!

Liverpool have two 1-0 wins from their two league matches this season, good for third in the table. Philippe Coutinho scored in the 86th minute to give the Reds an opening day 1-0 win over Stoke City at the Britannia. This past Monday, Liverpool won 1-0 over newly promoted Bournemouth in their home opener; Christian Benteke opened his Liverpool account in the 26th minute, but the Reds were unconvincing otherwise (or, so I've heard. I was at work and couldn't watch.)

Match Facts

This beautiful Mesut Ozil free kick gave Arsenal a 2-0 lead
in this fixture last year. It was the second of Arsenal's three
goals in eight minutes to end the first half.
Arsenal took four of six points from Liverpool last year, winning this fixture 4-1 in April after surrendering a late equalizer to draw at Anfield in December. At Anfield, Arsenal snatched a draw from the jaws of victory in a match they really didn't deserve anything from anyway; Martin Skrtel equalized in the 96th minute. Incidentally, there was only so much added time because of an injury Skrtel had suffered earlier in the half. At the Emirates, however, Arsenal dominated, with goals from Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, and Olivier Giroud; Liverpool scored their goal from the penalty spot, as Arsenal went on to win 4-1. Liverpool had a player sent off toward the end of both matches.

Arsenal have won three straight meetings against Liverpool at the Emirates. In addition to last year's win, Arsenal defeated the Reds twice in London during the 2013/14 season, 2-0 in the league that November and 2-1 in the FA Cup just a week after being hit for five at Anfield. Prior to this streak, Arsenal had gone three without a win at home against the Reds.

Arsenal have only lost twice to Liverpool in their last 16 competitive fixtures across all competitions. Nine of their last 20 meetings have ended drawn.

The Referee

Liverpool are not very fond of Mr. Oliver, after he missed this
back in January.
The referee is Northumberland-based Michael Oliver. You will, of course, likely remember Oliver's performance in Arsenal's sixth round FA Cup victory at Old Trafford last season, in which he did not let United get away with, for lack of a better term, all their little bullshit.

Arsenal saw Oliver six times last season and were unbeaten across all six, winning three and drawing three. Aside from the aforementioned cup tie, Oliver also took charge of Arsenal's 3-0 win over Manchester City in the Community Shield and an earlier FA Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion. The draws included the 1-1 with Spurs last September, the also aforementioned 2-2 draw at Anfield last December, and the 0-0 draw with Chelsea in April.

Liverpool saw Oliver five times last season, winning once, drawing once, and losing three. The draw, you already know, was the 2-2 against Arsenal, in which Fabio Borini was shown two yellow cards in 16 minutes. The win came against West Brom last October, 2-1 at Anfield. The only loss in Premier League play came against Manchester City, 3-1 at the Etihad last August.

The other two losses saw Liverpool eliminated from both domestic cups: in January, they lost in extra time to Chelsea in the League Cup in highly controversial fashion; Diego Costa was retroactively banned three matches for a stamp on Emre Can, pictured above. In April, Oliver was the referee as Liverpool lost the FA Cup Semi-Final to Aston Villa.

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Manchester United v. Newcastle United; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Saturday: Crystal Palace v. Aston Villa; Selhurst Park, London
  • Saturday: Leicester City v. Tottenham Hotspur; King Power Stadium, Leicester
  • Saturday: Norwich City v. Stoke City; Carrow Road, Norwich
  • Saturday: Sunderland v. Swansea City; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Saturday: West Ham United v. Bournemouth; Boleyn Ground, London
  • Sunday (early): West Bromwich Albion v. Chelsea; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Sunday (late): Everton v. Manchester City; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Sunday (late): Watford v. Southampton; Vicarage Road, Watford
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and a Renaissance man. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat to find out how he got to this time period from the Renaissance.