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Liverpool vs Arsenal: Anfield showdown presents opportunity for both sides

By Omowale Bakare - After professionally getting the job done against West Ham in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, beating the Hammers 5-1, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp challenged the Anfield crowd to be louder when the League leaders come visiting on Saturday. “If you are not in the right shape, give your ticket to somebody else”, the German said. Many pundits and football fans have attempted to give different meanings to the German’s statement. Some even suggested it was an insult to an Anfield crowd who are known to always turn up for any party in loud fashion. However, Klopp knew what he was doing. Once a semi-final place was secured in the Carabao Cup, there was no better time to remind Liverpool fans how important Saturday’s clash against Mikel Arteta’s side is.

Klopp has now spent enough years in the premier league and has been part of enough title races to understand that victory on Saturday is important not just because it takes the reds back to the top of the league but because it opens up a seven-point gap over annual favourites Manchester City.  Pep Guardiola’s side are away in Saudi Arabi for the FIFA Club World Cup. Although they will then have a game in hand over their rivals, both Liverpool and Arsenal understand the importance of creating as much gap as they can between them and City. Pep’s side have constantly shown that they can close gaps in the second half of the season, as they did to Arsenal last season and on more than one occasion to beat Klopp’s side to the title.

Liverpool have lost just one of their previous 50 top-flight games at Anfield, while they are unbeaten in the last 20. They will be counting on the Anfield crowd to make Saturday’s visit a tough one for Arteta’s side who are yet to pick up a win at Anfield in their last ten visits; seven losses and three draws. But the current League leaders have what it takes to go one step further than Manchester United did last week at Anfield. United became the first team to stop Liverpool from scoring at Anfield this season, leaving Merseyside with a largely unexpected point. While Arsenal have the attacking prowess to hurt Liverpool, they know that Klopp’s side are a different animal at home.

The five goals against West Ham despite making changes in personnel in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday showed just how dangerous Liverpool are. This season, they seem to have mastered the art of getting results despite not playing in top gear. Although a similar case can be made for Mikel Arteta’s side who have had to grind out wins against the likes of Luton, Brentford and Wolves this season. Both teams will be going at each other full throttle on Saturday knowing that the top spot is not only at stake but three crucial points in what looks like will be a three-way title race this season.

Players to watch

Mohamed Salah has scored nine goals in 13 top-flight appearances against Arsenal, including one as a Chelsea player.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has registered six Premier League assists against the Gunners, with five of those coming at Anfield.

Gabriel Martinelli has found the net four times against Liverpool and he scored and assisted in both Premier League meetings last season.

Gabriel Jesus has either scored or assisted in Arsenal's last three trips to Anfield, bagging their second goal in the 2-2 draw here last season.

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