Friday, September 18, 2020

Prediction: Arsenal vs Liverpool

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 28 Aug 2020

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Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: 888sport

FA Cup winners Arsenal are set to face Premier League champions Liverpool in the Community Shield on Saturday afternoon at Wembley, in a contest which will decide the owner of the first trophy of the season and possibly give us some insight into what the two managers have been cooking up during the summer.

Arsenal

Having had a rather disappointing league campaign in 2019/20, Arsenal finished in eighth place with 56 points. The result had them set to miss out on European football in 2020/21, but then they pulled a rather big surprise by winning the FA Cup. Their performances against Manchester City in the semifinal and Chelsea in the final made a big impression, with nobody questioning them being worthy of the trophy at the end of the affair.

Since then, Arsenal secured the signing of former Chelsea winger Willian on free transfer and are currently working hard on getting captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to sign a new contract. The proposed arrival of defender Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille OSC is also said to be very close, but head coach Mikel Arteta seemed confident in his pre-match press conference that his team would be fighting for the top in 2020/21.

The Gunners played only one pre-season game, a 4-1 triumph over League One side MK Dons, and Arteta bemoaned them having only two training sessions to prepare for facing Liverpool. However, he was adamant that his players would be playing to win.

Team News

Defenders Pablo Mari, Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers are all out. All of them will miss the start of the league season as well, and while Mari and Mustafi might return in its early stages, Chambers won’t be back in training before the turn of the year. The same goes for young forward Gabriel Martinelli.

Willian could make his club debut on Saturday, while Aubameyang seems practically certain to start.

Liverpool

Unlike that of Arsenal, Liverpool’s Premier League 2019/20 season was extremely successful. They won the title for the first time in 30 years, their 19th champions’ crown overall, by racking up 99 points, the second-highest tally the league has ever seen, leaving defenders Manchester City 18 points behind in second place.

The only signing Liverpool have so far made this summer is Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiacos, whose arrival will provide cover and competition for Andy Robertson on the left defensive flank. They have been strongly linked with Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, but nothing substantial has happened on that front yet.

The Merseysiders played twice in pre-season, beating VfB Stuttgart 3-0 and coming back from two goals down against RB Salzburg to draw 2-2. Interestingly enough, it was a very strong line-up that started that match and conceded the two goals early, while the second string produced a fine performance in the second half and young striker Rhian Brewster found the opposition twice to set the final score, having already scored against Stuttgart.

Team News

Manager Jurgen Klopp will be without Jordan Henderson in the middle of the park with his captain still unavailable through knee injury suffered late last season. The same goes for former Arsenal player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is likely to remain out of action for a while yet.

Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is said to be fit after an injury of his own, but Klopp might decide not to expose him to unnecessary risks with young Neco Williams ready to step in. Tsimikas is likely to be named on the bench with Robertson still ahead in the pecking order, as is Brewster, despite his three goals in two pre-season games.

Centre-back Virgil van Dijk was taken off against Salzburg with a cut above his eye, but there wasn’t any lasting damage done and he should be ready 100%.

Conclusion

Whatever happens in terms of outcome, we’re likely to see a good match, full of attacking intent even if the players of both sides still seem rusty. Mistakes could well happen at both ends, which means both goalkeepers could be taking the ball out of their nets; at least once each.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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