Football News: Premier League Match Preview Friday 22nd December 2017

 

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Premier League Match Preview Friday 22nd December 2017
Image from: drawception.com

Friday 22nd December 2017



Arsenal v Liverpool 7:45pm kick off


Giroud (hamstring injury) major doubt
Ramsey (hamstring injury expected return 7th January 2018) out
Cazorla (plantaris injury) out
Coquelin (knock) slight doubt

Arsenal broke a run of 3 games without a win with a 1-0 win over Newcastle last weekend and are extremely strong at home, having only lost once, to Man Utd, at home all season. While they have had the midweek League Cup match to contend with, it was a second string side that played, so should have very little bearing on this fixture. What will have a bearing is the early season fixture between the two teams, which saw Arsenal's worst performance in a 4-0 hiding at Anfield. This is a chance for them to gain some measure of revenge, at least, so it is very likely they will be fired up for this game. This season Arsene Wenger has struggled to get results against the sides that he would expect to be battling for a top 4 place. Just one win against Spurs after playing all 5 once so far is all they have to show for their efforts. That is something that Wenger will have to look to address, starting with this match today.
Most important player: Alexis Sanchez. He has been woefully out of form this season, but he can be a match winner on his day.


Sturridge (illness) late fitness test
Moreno (ankle injury) major doubt
Grujic (fractured finger) doubt
Matip (thigh strain) late fitness test
Clyne (back injury expected return 10th February 2018) out
Bogdan (ACL injury) out

The Reds have now gone 9 matches without defeat, though they have picked up too many draws in the midst of that run, which saw them slip further behind league leaders Man City. It has been enough to move them above today's opponent into 4th, just one point above the Gunners, so it is all to play for today. While their away record overally this season is not the best, conceding almost all of their 20 conceded this season on the road, 17 of them in fact, they have improved since being battered 4-0 by the only top 4 challenger Arsenal were able to beat. Following that defeat to Spurs, Liverpool have played 4 games on the road and conceded just 2 goals, while scoring 16 themselves. In fact, in their unbeaten run of 9, they have conceded just 4 goals in total, a long cry from shipping 4 at Spurs and 5 at Man City.
Most important player: Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian is in magnificent form this season and is putting in a claim to be considered as the best player in the league. Not bad for a player that Jurgen Klopp had to be convinced to bring in to the club!


Defining Battle: this game all comes down to how well the Arsenal backline cope with the Liverpool attack. If Arsenal try to stick to their system and way of playing, as they did at Anfield, they will get picked off by the break, due to the huge amount of space they leave in behind. They will probably need to be more pragmatic than Wenger would like, as Arsenal have a real weakness defensively to pace. No matter which combination of centre backs plays, Wenger tends to look to play as high a line as possible, which leaves so much grass in behind them for the Liverpool attack to get at. Unless Wenger is going to apply a press for once, that just becomes an open invitation to forwards to exploit.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 2-4
Ed003 - 2-2
Ed004 - 2-4
Ed007 - 2-1
Ed018 - 2-1
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 1-1



Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed033 - 115 points
2. Ed025 - 108 points
3. Ed018 - 107 points
4. Ed002 - 106 points
5. Ed007 - 105 points
6. Ed003 - 104 points
7. Ed004 - 103 points


*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 20th December 2017

Written by Tris Burke



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