Competition: Premier League – Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Venue: Emirates Stadium – Sunday, August 14 – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET)
Match Odds: Arsenal 13/10 – Draw 5/2 – Liverpool 19/10
Both sides are set to be without a number of key men, who are out injured or lacking match fitness but both know that three points would be a huge boost here.
Arsenal are entering the new season without a trio of star players, with Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil set to miss out after arriving late for preseason preparations.
But Arsene Wenger will still be under pressure to deliver a positive result after another frustrating transfer window, in which the club has still not bought a star striker, much to supporters’ frustration.
The Gunners beat Manchester City 3-2 last weekend in their final preseason friendly and will hope to hit the ground running here.
Liverpool come into the new season in good spirits after Jurgen Klopp enjoyed a successful first preseason campaign with the Reds.
They thumped FC Barcelona 4-0 at Wembley last weekend, before then falling 4-0 to Mainz the following day, but more can be taken from the clash with the Spanish giants as Klopp fielded an almost full-strength side.
Liverpool have only won one of their last 20 trips to Arsenal in all competitions but will fancy their chances of success against a weakened Gunners squad.
Three of the last four clashes between these two have ended in draws and another close-fought battle is expected in Sunday’s content.
Arsenal are facing an injury crisis before even beginning the new season. Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud have returned to training late after their Euro 2016 campaigns, while Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista are both injured, so there is a real problem in defence. On top of that, Jack Wilshere is suffering from a knock, with Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson also ruled out. Nacho Monreal could start in the centre of defence alongside new signing Rob Holding, with Kieran Gibbs and Hector Bellerin playing at full-back.
Liverpool have a sizeable injury list themselves ahead of their opening game. New goalkeeper Loris Karius is definitely out, along with Mamadou Sakho. While there are doubts over the fitness of James Milner, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Marko Grujic, Daniel Sturridge, Lucas Leiva and Sheyi Ojo. Roberto Firmino is expected to start as the lone striker, with summer arrivals Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum pushing for their Reds debuts.
Arsenal’s last five: N/A
Liverpool’s last five: N/A
Key Stat: Late drama – This fixture has seen more 90th minute goals (16) than any other match in Premier League history. There has been a stoppage time goal in three of the last four league games between these two.
Key Player: Roberto Firmino – The Brazilian playmaker is expected to occupy the ‘false nine’ position for Sunday’s game. He has nine Premier League goals with four assists so far in 2016 and will look to start the new campaign with a bang here.
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool – This should be a tight contest between two sides that will setup to avoid defeat on the opening weekend. Both sides will want to play on the counter-attack, without committing too many men forward and so that could lead to quite a cagey game at the Emirates. An early goal could see the floodgates open but a score draw looks likely here.