On Saturday a monster clash takes place at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal host Liverpool (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
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The Gunners have won six on the spin and a win over Liverpool will see them momentarily climb into second spot, while fifth-placed Liverpool slipped five points behind Manchester United in the race for a top four place after their 2-1 defeat to the Red Devils before the international break.
Below is how I see the two sides lining up from the start on Saturday. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.
Arsene Wenger has some interesting decisions to make on Saturday, as he has an abundance of attacking players to choose from now that everyone is back fit. Mesut Ozil could have been the odd man out but Danny Welbeck’s injury for England in midweek means Ozil, Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez will likely be tasked with tormenting Liverpool’s three-man defense. As for Arsenal’s defense, new-signing Gabriel could miss out to Per Mertesacker (I’d go for Gabriel) while Nacho Monreal should get the nod over Kieran Gibbs at left back. In midfield, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin should start in the center but any of Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky or Mathieu Flamini could easily slot in. Simpy put, Arsenal has a bunch of options everywhere you look but expect them to line up in a familiar 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation.
— Ospina —
— Bellerin — Koscielny — Gabriel — Monreal —
— Cazorla — Coquelin — Ramsey —
— Ozil — Giroud — Sanchez —
Without Martin Skrtel in defense following his suspension for stamping on David de Gea, Liverpool could be opened up pretty easily. The big question here is, does Dejan Lovren or Kolo Toure come in to central defense? Or maybe even Glen Johnson or Albero Moreno slotting back into a full back position to make it a flat back four? I think Brendan Rodgers will stick with the three-man defense and the 3-4-3 formation which has served his team so well since the turn of the year. Up front Daniel Sturridge could be missing through injury but Rodgers believes the England international could be fit for the match. If Sturridge doesn’t start, expect Mario Balotelli or Raheem Sterling to move into the central role. Adam Lallana and Lucas Leiva have recovered from injuries to boost the Reds’ midfield options as Steven Gerrard starts his suspension following his red card against Manchester United.
— Mignolet —
— Can — Lovren — Sakho —
— Lallana — Allen — Henderson — Moreno —
— Sterling — Sturridge — Coutinho —
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.
A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.
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Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.
Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.
And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.
A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.
Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.
Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.
Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.
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Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.
Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.
It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.
Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.
Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.
Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.
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But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.
That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.
So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.
Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.
So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.
Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.
Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.
Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.
And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.
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The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).
The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.
Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.