With neither side having had the time to undertake an extensive pre-season campaign this summer, the Community Shield could be a tough match to call.
Arsenal have played just once, beating MK Dons of League One 4-1 on Tuesday night. Liverpool won 3-0 against Stuttgart – who were in the German second flight last season – before drawing 2-2 with their old Champions League sparring partners Red Bull Salzburg.
However, if we look to the form guide between the two teams then there can be only one winner. Prior to the last meeting in July, Arsenal had faced Jurgen Klopp’s Reds nine times and hadn’t won once.
But doesn’t the Gunners’ 2-1 victory last time out offer them some hope? It might, if they had genuinely deserved to win.
They only had three shots in the match though, and the one Opta-defined error leading to a goal which each of Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk made last season both occurred in that match. Liverpool missed two clear-cut chances too, which happens, but they never should have lost on the balance of play.
Mikel Arteta will have to look to Community Shield history for a boost instead. Liverpool lost to Manchester City on penalties last year, while Arsenal have won their last three season curtain raisers.
In the Premier League era, when the champion faces the FA Cup winner (rather than a double winner playing the second place team), the tally is only 11-9 to the league title holders.
All things being equal you’d have to say Liverpool should win, and by a margin too. Four of their five Klopp era victories over the Gunners have been by at least two goals, and this should be another.
Whoever wins, an entertaining match would be nice. Wouldn’t a repeat of the 5-5 draw with a penalty shootout which these sides served up in the Carabao Cup last season be perfect Saturday afternoon entertainment?
While that might be unrealistic, there’s rarely been a lack of goals in recent meetings between these teams. Since Klopp took charge, Liverpool haven’t scored more Premier League goals against any other team than they’ve netted against Arsenal, and they’ve only conceded more against Manchester City too.
The teams played out a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium in the early days of the Unai Emery era – so about a thousand years ago, or at least that’s how it feels – but that match and the recent 2-1 Arsenal win aside, there have otherwise been at least four goals when these teams have met since Brendan Rodgers got the Anfield boot.
With an average of three goals per game in their admittedly small pre-seasons as well, there’s no reason to bet against goals here.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored the winner for Arsenal in the 2015 Community Shield, but his absence through injury shouldn’t affect Liverpool too much.
The greater issue is which of their front three to select in the goalscorer markets, as they all have great records against Arsenal.
Roberto Firmino has scored at least three more goals against the Gunners than any other team for Liverpool, netting a hat-trick in 2018. While Arsenal aren’t out in front for Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah, nor has either player scored more goals against any of the other traditional big clubs than they have against the Gunners.
While you could make a case for any of the trio benefitting from the inevitable David Luiz mistake, Mane is the only current Liverpool player with more than one goal against Arsenal away from Anfield.
He broke the deadlock in north London last season, and only two players scored more opening goals than he did in the 2019/20 Premier League.
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