ARSENAL and Liverpool’s game on Friday night could prove be one of the key moments in the race for a spot in the Premier League top four.
The Gunners go into the game in fifth place, just one point behind Jurgen Klopp’s side, who sit in fourth.
A win for Arsene Wenger’s men would take them into the top four, while a loss would see Arsenal slide to four points behind, which would be a blow with half the season gone.
There have been several classic meetings between the two sides, including a 4-4 at Anfield in 2009, and Liverpool’s 5-1 home win in 2014. The neutrals will be hoping for another goal-filled game.
Kick-off at the Emirates is at 7.45pm and the match will be shown on Sky Sports Premier League.
We asked our friends at Football Whispers to preview the game, looking at where it may be won and lost.
Mohamed Salah has exceeded all expectations since arriving at Anfield from Roma this summer.
Written off by many as a Chelsea flop, the Egyptian has been on fire for Liverpool, with 20 goals in all competitions for the Reds.
The 25-year-old is also the Premier League’s top scorer, with 14 so far in 2017/18. He is two goals clear of his nearest rival, Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane.
Salah has struck nine times in his last eight Premier League games, so Arsenal will have to try to stop the winger if they’re to get anything from the match at Anfield.
Perhaps the biggest concern for Gunners fans will be that the winger will probably come up against arguably the most inexperienced member of their starting line-up, Maitland-Niles.
Since Wenger switched to using four in defence, the 20-year-old has started at left-back in the Premier League.
When the Frenchman was asked if he had any fears about the young Englishman facing Liverpool’s front line, he said: “Not really, no.”
There’s no doubt Liverpool’s front three are one of the most exciting the Premier League has seen for years.
Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all have goalscoring ability and are blessed with pace to rip even the best defences apart.
The trio have scored 24 of Liverpool’s 38 goals this season, including one each against Arsenal in a 4-0 demolition earlier this season.
If the Gunners want to come away with victory on Friday night, they’ll have to hope their three key attackers, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette are on form.
In that defeat at Anfield in August, Ozil was accused of looking disinterested and he will want to prove his doubters wrong and step up in the big game.
The Gunners trio have 15 goals between them this season in the top flight, just under half of Arsenal’s 31 total.
For much of this season, Arsenal lined up in a 3-4-2-1 formation. But Wenger has switched to a 4-2-3-1 in their last three matches and the Gunners haven’t conceded, so it’s likely Wenger will stick with four at the back for Liverpool’s visit.
Liverpool have always lined up in a 4-3-3, and although they’ve dabbled with a 3-5-2 and a 4-2-3-1 on the odd occasion in 2017/18, if Klopp doesn’t play his favoured shape, it will be a real surprise.
After limping off against West Ham United in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, Olivier Giroud is likely to miss out.
Sead Kolasinac completed 90 minutes in midweek but with Maitland-Niles being preferred in recent Premier League games, it’s likely the youngster will get the nod at left-back.
Shkodran Mustafi is in connection after a thigh injury, but is unlikely to start, while Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey remain long-term absentees.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Wilshere, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez; Lacazette
For Liverpool, Emre Can is available after serving a one-match suspension, while Joel Matip is back I training after an abductor injury.
Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne are still not ready for a return to action, while Daniel Sturridge is ill.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet; Gomez, Lovren, Klagan, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Coutinho; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Mane has scored in each of his last three Premier League games against Arsenal.
Firmino has been involved in six goals in five Premier League appearances against Arsenal (four goals, two assists) but the Brazilian has neither scored nor assisted in two matches at the Emirates.
Arsenal have won 13 of their last 14 Premier League games at the Emirates, losing the other against Manchester United at the start of the month.
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