Four key battles that could decide Liverpool vs Arsenal

Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Saturday in a fixture that could prove pivotal in the Premier League title race.

The Reds currently sit second in the top flight, just a point behind the league-leading Gunners. A victory at the weekend would see Jurgen Klopp's men leapfrog them in the table and would guarantee that they were top of the tree come Christmas Day.

Liverpool bounced back from an underwhelming goalless draw with Manchester United last weekend with an emphatic 5-1 victory over West Ham in the Carabao Cup quarter-final midweek. However, Arsenal will prove a sterner test than the Reds' last two home encounters.

Mikel Arteta's side are flying in the Premier League and Champions League and confidence will be high ahead of their trip to Merseyside. It's up to Liverpool to put a dent in their title rivals' ambitions.

Here are four key battles that could decide Liverpool vs Arsenal.


TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD VS GABRIEL MARTINELLI

Trent Alexander-Arnold - Pro Shots

We have seen Alexander-Arnold have some tough meetings with Martinelli in the past, Arsenal's Brazilian a testing foe for any full-back. The winger's directness and raw speed will need extra attention on Saturday.

If Arsenal can exploit the space vacated by Alexander-Arnold down Liverpool's right, as so may sides attempt to do, then Martinelli could enjoy himself at Anfield on Sunday, as he did in both fixtures against the Reds last season.

Klopp may be tempted to move Alexander-Arnold into midfield and deploy the more solid Joe Gomez at right-back, but it would be a risky move on such a big occasion.

As much as we all love to see Alexander-Arnold gallop forward, he will have to be up to the task defensively this weekend.

MOHAMED SALAH VS OLEKSANDR ZINCHENKO

Mo Salah, Crystal Palace vs Liverpool - Propaganda

At the other end of the pitch, Liverpool could take advantage of an attacking full-back themselves. Zinchenko, similarly to Alexander-Arnold, is given the freedom to step into central areas, perhaps leaving some space down Arsenal's left flank when the ball is turned over.

Salah, who enjoys a strong record against Gunners, could exploit Zinchenko's offensive nature, peeling into the wide areas left vacant by the Ukrainian defender.

The Egyptian's dribbling ability and pace should be enough to hurt Zinchenko anyway, especially if Martinelli is caught up the pitch.

CURTIS JONES VS DECLAN RICE

Curtis Jones, Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool vs West Ham - Propaganda

Fresh from a sparkling performance against West Ham on Wednesday in which he bagged a beautiful brace, Jones is likely to get the nod against Arsenal given Liverpool's midfield injuries - not that he wouldn't deserve it anyway after a brilliant display in the Carabao Cup.

The Scouser provides greater balance to the Reds' midfield trio, while his work rate can prove key in forcing turnovers and leading the press in central areas.

But what we saw from Jones against West Ham was a more offensive performance, meaning he could regularly come face-to-face with Rice in Arsenal's midfield this weekend. The £105m man is a difficult player to overcome, with Jones needing to be razor sharp to cause him problems.

There is also the possibility that Rice plays on the right-hand side of a midfield three, with the likes of Jorginho or Mohamed Elneny (if fit) featuring in the holding role. If that's the case, then Jones will have to be able to match the former West Ham man stride for stride in both halves.

KOSTAS TSIMIKAS VS BUKAYO SAKA

Kostas Tsimikas - Pro Shots.

Tsimikas has endured some difficult afternoons this season, but he will need to perform to the highest standard on Saturday. The Greek full-back will come up against the talented Saka, a player who can make any defender look foolish.

The former Olympiacos man will be harried from start to finish by Arsenal's young winger, given little time to breathe. Tsimikas has sometimes struggled under pressure this season, some sloppy touches having proved costly in Carabao Cup and Europa League games.

With Saka's dynamism, pace and skilful dribbling, Tsimikas will have to be mentally prepared for a gruelling battle on Saturday.

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