Mikel Arteta aims to inflict a telling psychological blow when leaders Arsenal travel to Anfield to face nemesis Liverpool in a blockbuster Premier League collision on Saturday evening. During the Arteta era, Jurgen Klopp’s Kop have beaten the Gunners more than any other side bar champions Manchester City. The visitors have won just two out of their last twenty encounters with Liverpool and both came at Emirates Stadium. Trips to Anfield usually bring the worst out of the division pacesetters who will be defending a one point advantage over their hosts.
The young Basque manager celebrated wildly when Arsenal ended Manchester City’s stranglehold over his side, first in the Community Shield via a penalty shoot out victory, and then in the league when a late Gabriel Martinelli strike gave the Gunners all three points in an EPL confrontation. A result of any description would elicit a not too dissimilar reaction at Anfield while simultaneously precipitating a mental impetus Arsenal need to end a 20-year wait for what has become a Holy Grail.
Arsenal travel to Anfield with the benefit of seven days rest while Liverpool confronted West Ham United in a Carabao Cup fixture on Wednesday. Arteta is also at a more advanced stage of his rebuilding job whereas Klopp has several newcomers in his midfield. The outcome of the humdinger may well rest on how Anfield summer arrivals Wataru Endo, Dominic Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenbach and Alexis MacAllister cope with the triumvirate of Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard.
Aston Villa can ascend to the Premier League summit if they overcome basement club Sheffield United on Friday night. Already by some distance the division’s team of the season to date, Unai Emery’s transformed Villains are closing in on a club record 20 victories in a row in all competitions at their Villa Park fortress. Not even the fresh bounce that comes with the appointment of a new manager in Chris Wilder can give the Blades hope of an upset result.
Two of the division’s more recognisable managers, Erik Ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino, will be aiming to ward off the pressure when they make difficult trips to West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively. Ten Hag got a stay of execution by holding Liverpool to a goalless draw in Manchester United’s last outing but nothing short of a result will have naysayers circling. Needless to emphasise, the Red Devils must improve on their dismal away form against sides in the top half of the standings if Ten Hag is to earn a respite.
Pochettino’s young Chelsea side are in buoyant mood following their Carabao Cup penalty shoot out victory over Newcastle United but the Argentine gaffer knows time is running out for the six time champs to put together a run that can propel them into a Top Six position that guarantees European football next season. Newly appointed Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo goes straight into the dugout for the former European champions home tie with Andoni Iraola’s rejuvenated Bournemouth.
Aston Villa v Sheffield United
West Ham United v Manchester United,
Fulham v Burnley,
Luton Town v Newcastle United,
Nottingham Forest v Bournemouth,
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton,
Liverpool v Arsenal
Wolves v Chelsea