Paul Merson has explained why Arsenal are favourites heading into this weekend’s huge Premier League clash with Liverpool at the Emirates.
Mikel Arteta’s side are top of the table at the moment and have won seven of their opening eight games – losing only to Manchester United so far.
The Anfield outfit, meanwhile, have just 10 points from a possible 21 but did earn a much needed victory over Rangers in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Jurgen Klopp opted to play four forwards against the Glasgow-based outfit with just two central midfielders in the starting XI, but Merson believes Liverpool will ‘get ripped to shreds’ if they set up in similar fashion in the capital on Sunday.
“This is a harder game for Arsenal than the Tottenham one and I say this because the fans and the players were naturally hyped for the derby,” Merson told sportskeeda. “If Arsenal win against Liverpool and manage to stay close to Manchester City in the coming months, they could well be contenders for the Premier League title this season. They need to keep their players fit, but Mikel Arteta will believe the Gunners have reasons to believe they can go all the way.
“Liverpool played against Rangers in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and won quite comfortably, while Arsenal are in UEFA Europa League action later today. The Reds will have a bit more rest heading into the much-anticipated Premier League clash, but on current form, Arsenal are probably favorites as things stand.
“Liverpool played four forwards against Rangers and dominated the game as they secured a 2-0 win at Anfield. Against Arsenal, though, I think they’ll get ripped to shreds if they play Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara against the likes of Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard as the Gunners trio have been in sublime form this season.”
Despite Klopp changing from his trusted 4-3-3 formation recently in order to create more space in the side for attackers, Bobby Firmino had to settle for a space on the bench against the Ibrox outfit and was joined by fellow Brazilian Fabinho.
VOTE for Empire of the Kop as Best Club Content Creator (Premier League) here: Football Content Awards
OR on Twitter with the FCA’s one-click Twitter link with: I am voting for @Empireofthekop in @The_FCAs for #BestClubContentCreator (Premier League)
The former netted twice in the Reds’ previous league outing against Brighton and Merson believes the two Brazil internationals will return to the starting XI for the clash at the Emirates and admits he’s not as confident about earning three points against Liverpool as he was for last weekend’s north London derby clash with Spurs.
“Roberto Firmino could come back into the team for this one, while Fabinho could slot into midfield to give them some more protection away from home.
“I just fancy Arsenal, but I’m not as confident as I was against Tottenham. There was no way Arsenal were going to lose that game, I’m not as sure with this one as it represents a different test for the table toppers.
“This is a massive game for the Gunners and could be one of the biggest tests of Arteta’s managerial career so far.”
Defeat would see us fall a huge 14 points behind the Gunners before our clash with Manchester City the following weekend.
Confidence should be high amongst the group following our defeat of Rangers, however, and we certainly believe that we have the ability to bring all three points back to Merseyside.