Liverpool carry a perfect record into the third match day of the Premier League, keeping stride with Arsenal at the top of the tree. Both teams have taken six points from a possible six, making this an early opportunity for Jurgen Klopp‘s side to take the psychological advantage by pulling ahead of the embryonic title-race pack.
Klopp was open about the effect the demanding fixture calendar could have on his players after their European Super Cup/Premier League double-header last week: “No football player should play 50 or 60 games a season, especially not in these intense positions. Goalie and centre-half can maybe do it, but all the rest? Give whatever you have and next game maybe somebody else will do the job.”
Given that the Reds will be facing Burnley next weekend, the thought process may be to give a few other players the chance to show what they can do at Turf Moor. Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson and Mohamed Salah have been intensely involved so this season, starting every fixture. For now, though, Klopp is likely to deploy his strongest XI against an Arsenal side who have shown flashes of brilliance across their first two league games.
Alisson Becker is still trying to return from a calf injury as quickly as possible after going down on the Premier League’s opening weekend. Adrian made a costly error last time out as the Brazilian’s deputy, which will only have increased the pressure on Alisson to try and return to first-team action sooner rather than later. Klopp’s only other defensive absentee is Nathaniel Clyne, who is recovering from a long-term ACL issue.
Joel Matip should continue as first choice centre-back alongside Van Dijk, with Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren waiting in the wings to rotate in. Robertson and Alexander-Arnold will retain their places at full back, too, with Gomez capable of slotting in as a back-up right back next weekend if necessary.
Probable starters: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson
Naby Keita has been struggling with a muscle injury of late and therefore shouldn’t be available from the off. After starting with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner flanking Georginio Wijnaldum in the middle of midfield against Southampton recently, Klopp should revert back to his strongest midfield three for a tough game.
Jordan Henderson and Fabinho both came off the bench at St Mary’s, meaning they should be rested and ready for a demanding match against an Arsenal side who should have a very energetic and combative midfield three of their own.
Probable starters: Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson
Despite dropping hints that rotation will be key in all positions but centre back and in goal this season, Klopp should stick with his tried and tested first-choice front three despite their involvement last weekend. The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi could come into the picture against Burnley.
Mohamed Salah failed to score last time out after a positive opening performance against Norwich, while Firmino and Mane picked up the slack by netting a goal apiece against the Saints. Anything but Liverpool’s star trio shouldn’t be anticipated this weekend. Selection surprises can come later in the campaign when there is midweek Champions League football to contend with. For now, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Probable starters: Salah, Firmino, Mane
Expected Liverpool line-up versus Arsenal (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Mane, Firmino, Salah