Arsenal recovered from their opening day setback with a creditable win last time out, and they now come up against a Liverpool side that boasts a 100% record after two matches.
There was pressure on the Gunners as they took to the field for their game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, a week after slipping to an unexpected loss at home to another London side, West Ham United, but they handled it well. A fine effort from Olivier Giroud put them ahead as they started quickly and constantly looked dangerous going forward, though an equaliser before half-time provided another test for their resolve.
And Arsene Wenger’s men found the answer, even with an element of fortune, given that the winner was an own goal and that Francis Coquelin may have been sent off on another day, but it was a pleasing performance which should get their season up and running. If they can maintain the fluency they showed in the final third against the Eagles, they will cause Liverpool problems, with Mesut Ozil looking particularly menacing.
Although they have collected maximum points and are yet to concede a goal, Liverpool have not convinced many after their first two games that they are set to make a significant improvement upon last season, with a moment of brilliance from Philippe Coutinho settling an otherwise cagey affair at Stoke City before a highly controversial Christian Benteke effort was enough to secure victory over newly promoted Bournemouth.
It has hardly been rip-roaring stuff, but manager Brendan Rodgers will be pleased with how the new signings have slotted in, with Benteke showing signs of his obvious quality and Nathaniel Clyne making a difference at right-back with his pace and greater defensive ability than his predecessors. This though represents a major test, and one which will provide a much clearer indication of how the Reds will fare this time around. The back four are in for a stern examination.
There are no new injury problems for Arsenal, so their only injury absentees remain midfield trio Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere.
Liverpool are still without Joe Allen, Jon Flanagan and Daniel Sturridge. There are also doubts over captain Jordan Henderson, who was forced off with a foot injury against Bournemouth.
Last Meeting: A first half blitz from Arsenal helped them to a comprehensive 4-1 victory over the abject visitors back in April. Three goals in eight minutes before half-time ended the game as a contest, with Hector Bellerin cutting inside and firing home before a superb Mesut Ozil free-kick and an equally fine strike from Alexis Sanchez. A penalty from Jordan Henderson gave Liverpool – who also had Emre Can sent off – a consolation, but Arsenal had the final say with Olivier Giroud finishing emphatically late on.
Played for both – Yossi Benayoun: Israel’s most capped player was a key signing for Liverpool in the summer of 2007, and he went on to feature regularly in a side challenging for major domestic and European honours, scoring 18 goals in 92 Premier League appearances in three seasons. After joining Chelsea in 2010, he went on loan to Arsenal for the 2011-12 season, finding the net four times in 19 outings.
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