With 2018 coming to a close, Jurgen Klopp must be a happy man. His Liverpool side sits atop the table, six points ahead of Manchester City. More crucially, the Reds are yet to lose a single game in the 2018-19 Premier League campaign. That record, however, is in some threat as Liverpool host Arsenal in the final Matchweek of 2018.
Liverpool are currently the favorites for the 2018-19 Premier League title. Their unbeaten run, coupled with Manchester City’s three losses, have set expectations high. The Reds have picked up maximum points in their last eight Premier League games. Their last result, that was not a win in the league, was the 1-1 draw with tonight’s opponents, Arsenal.
Arsenal are currently fifth on the table and have only won two of their last five Premier League games. Unai Emery’s side had impressed everyone with their resolute performances but a bevy of injuries have stalled the Gunners’ momentum.
Injury worries for Emery
Arsenal head into this game with a long injury list. The worst part of that list is that most of Emery’s first-choice defenders are out for this pivotal fixture. Rob Holding, who was enjoying a breakout campaign, injured his knee against Manchester United and is out for nine months. Club captain, Laurent Koscielny, also picked up a knock in Arsenal’s last game against Brighton. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal are doubtful for this clash as well. Shokdran Mustafi, who hasn’t played in the last five games due to injury, is also not a complete surety for this game.
Arsenal’s list of injuries doesn’t end there. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil too are missing the Liverpool game, depriving Emery of creativity in the midfield.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have the luxury of fielding a full-strength squad. James Milner and Joe Gomez are the only notable absentees among the bunch.
Liverpool’s advantage over the Gunners
The hosts have been solid in recent games against the North London side. Liverpool are unbeaten in seven games (W3, D4) in all competitions against Arsenal. Furthermore, Liverpool have not lost to Arsenal in the last five games at Anfield. The Reds have scored two or more goals in each of these five matches, with 17 being the total number of goals scored.
In the reverse fixture at the Emirates this season, Arsenal held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw. An 81st minute goal from Alexandre Lacazette cancelled out James Milner’s 61st minute strike. Considering the teams’ respective forms and squad strength, Arsenal would do well to share points with Liverpool tonight.
The race for the Golden Boot
This game will also feature two forwards who are in pole position for the Premier League Golden Boot. Mohamed Salah is currently second on the list of top scorers this season, with 12 goals. Despite a slow start, the 2017-18 PFA Players’ Player of the Year is back to his best. The Egyptian has scored six goals in his last five games, including a hat-trick against Bournemouth.
Salah currently trails Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the top scorers’ chart. The Gabonese forward has not stopped scoring ever since he adorned Arsenal colors in January 2018. Auba has found the net 13 times this season. He has scored three in Arsenal’s last two Premier League games. His overall tally for the Gunners stands at 23 goals in 32 appearances.
It will be interesting to see who is able to add to his goal tally in this big game.