Liverpool vs Arsenal: Will the Gunners pull off another shock?

Arsenal have improved their record in big games under Mikel Arteta but Jurgen Klopp's side look stronger than ever. Watch Liverpool vs Arsenal live on Sky Sports Premier League on Monday Night Football from 7.45pm; Kick-off 8pm

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates Arsenal's shootout win over Liverpool

In August of last year, the encounter ended in a 3-1 win for Jurgen Klopp's side but the final scoreline could easily have been worse for Arsenal. Liverpool attempted 25 shots over the course of the 90 minutes. The two clubs appeared on different trajectories and so it proved.

This year, however, with Mikel Arteta at the helm in place of Unai Emery, Arsenal head into the game believing that downward trajectory has been reversed. The most recent meeting between the two sides, in the Community Shield last month, ended in a penalty shootout win for the Gunners. There was also the 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium in July.

Last season's Premier League table does not scream progress, of course. Arsenal finished the campaign in eighth place despite that win over Liverpool at the Emirates.

But there is certainly encouragement to be found in their record against the rest of the Premier League's big six since Arteta's appointment

As well as overcoming Liverpool twice, Arsenal have secured two victories over Chelsea and one over Manchester City. Their win rate in those games has jumped from just 18 per cent under Emery to an impressive 56 per cent under Arteta.

Arsenal boast a far superior win rate against the big six under Mikel Arteta
Image: Arsenal boast a far superior win rate against the big six under Mikel Arteta

That improvement helped Arsenal win the FA Cup as well as the Community Shield, of course, and they now hope it will translate to the Premier League. Another positive result against Liverpool on Monday Night Football would certainly enhance the sense of optimism building among supporters.

Also See:

It will not be easy against a side who have started the Premier League season in the same way they started the last. But Arteta has instilled belief in his players and recent evidence suggests this Arsenal side are in fact better-suited to playing against the bigger sides, when possession is typically tilted in the opposition's favour, than against the smaller ones.

Consider the fact that they have averaged just 38 per cent possession in the five games they have won against big-six sides under Arteta. Across the last five games they have lost, by contrast, they have averaged 57 per cent.

It may work to their advantage, then, that the figure is likely to be low at Anfield on Monday. Arsenal, so frail previously, look far more resilient now. Consistency remains elusive, but they have shown impressive defensive organisation against top opposition in recent months coupled with a willingness to "suffer", as Arteta puts it, in order to grind out results.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signs a new three-year contract with Arsenal 1:32
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang admits he considered leaving Arsenal, but decided to commit his future to the club after a talk with manager Mikel Arteta

What's just as significant, though, is that while Arsenal still struggle to break down teams which are set up to sit behind the ball and frustrate them, they possess considerable threat on the counter-attack.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a player well known to Klopp having played under him at Borussia Dortmund, has scored five times in Arsenal's last three meetings with top-six rivals and almost all of those goals have come from counter-attacking scenarios.

More of the same will be required as they approach a testing run of fixtures but the form of their attacking players is certainly encouraging.

Aubameyang, so deadly at the end of last season, has continued to impress in the new one, following up his goal in the Community Shield with another in the opening day win over Fulham, then providing an assist against West Ham. Alexandre Lacazette, meanwhile, has scored two in two and so has Eddie Nketiah.

Liverpool even stronger with Thiago, Jota

Thiago in action on his Premier League debut for Liverpool
Image: Thiago Alcantara in action on his Premier League debut for Liverpool

Liverpool will have to be wary of Arsenal's attacking threat but they remain considerable favourites to win the game. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have started the season in explosive form and they now have added support from new signings Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara.

Jota is unlikely to be thrown in from the start just yet, but Thiago will certainly be confident of securing a place in the team following a hugely encouraging debut from the bench in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

Live MNF

That is not to say the Spaniard was perfect at Stamford Bridge, of course. He was guilty of conceding Chelsea's penalty when he tripped Timo Werner midway through the second half. But you would be hard-pushed to find to any faults in his performance with the ball. In just 45 minutes on the pitch, he made more passes than any Chelsea player managed all game.

Many of those passes helped Liverpool work their way through Chelsea's low block and Klopp may look to him to do the same against Arsenal.

Indeed, if there was one criticism of this Liverpool side last season, it was that they sometimes struggled to break down opponents who did not give them opportunities to strike on the break. Thiago has been brought in to change that.

Thiago is poised to join Liverpool from Bayern Munich 1:24
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says that the signing of Thiago Alcântara was a 'win-win', with both the player and the club excited to team up

The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona midfielder has demonstrated outstanding vision and passing range throughout his glittering career. He tends not to rack up the assists, but few players are better when it comes to unpicking a packed defence. If Arsenal give him too much space to work in at Anfield on Monday, there is a danger he will punish them.

Jota is expected to be named on the bench, but he too could provide a game-changing impact if Liverpool need some inspiration late in the game.

The 23-year-old represents an upgrade on Liverpool's other back-up options and made his debut as a substitute in the 7-2 Carabao Cup win over Lincoln on Thursday night. "I think everybody could see some glimpses of what he can do for us," said Klopp afterwards.

Carra: Arsenal 'different proposition' under Arteta

Dani Ceballos and Mikel Arteta celebrate winning the FA Cup
Image: Dani Ceballos and Mikel Arteta celebrate winning the FA Cup

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher was full of praise for the job Arteta has done since taking the Arsenal job in the latest episode of the Pitch to Post preview podcast. "There's no doubt Arsenal are on the way back under Mikel Arteta," he said. "I think he's been a brilliant signing.

"I'm so impressed with how he's managing that squad. I think we'd all say that squad still needs a lot more work doing to it to get back to the level Arsenal supporters want.

"But what he's done with the squad he's inherited is fantastic. To win the FA Cup, beat Liverpool a couple of times in the league and Community Shield, that's something Liverpool will want to put right. But it's a completely different proposition this Arsenal team coming to Anfield than it was last season when Unai Emery's Arsenal came very early in the season."

"We know his upbringing in football, in Spain, and he's worked with Pep Guardiola as a coach as well. He wants to be involved in teams that dominate the ball and dominate the game.

"But he possibly realises now he doesn't have the players to do that, to take on the big teams, and he's done it a different way and got results. I think that's great management.

"He's made Arsenal - would you believe - look defensively strong at the moment. That can only be attributed to his organisation rather than the individual players, I must say."

Carra: No Liverpool drop-off

Jurgen Klopp embraces new signing Thiago after Liverpool's 2-0 win over Chelsea
Image: Jurgen Klopp embraces Thiago Alcantara at Stamford Bridge last weekend

While Arsenal may be on the rise under Arteta, though, Carragher insisted there is no prospect of Liverpool letting their foot off the gas this season.

"Liverpool won't drop off in terms of intensity or attitude or mentality," he added. "That will not be allowed to happen with the manager they've got. They could drop off in terms of performance, that can happen with players at different times. If someone is slightly better than you, sometimes you have to hold your hands up.

"But it certainly won't be a case of Liverpool climbing the mountain to win the league and just feeling like they've done it and don't need to do anything else. That certainly won't be the case.

"I didn't need the Chelsea game to reaffirm that for myself. But, on the back of the Leeds game not going as well as most Liverpool supporters would have wanted, that was a performance which was almost a little message to the rest of the Premier League that they will be there or thereabouts this season. I think it was a great week for Liverpool."

Watch Liverpool vs Arsenal live on Sky Sports Premier League on Monday Night Football from 7.45pm; Kick-off 8pm

ONE MILLION POUNDS! Can you imagine?

ONE MILLION POUNDS! Can you imagine?

You read correctly. Do not miss your chance to scoop £1m for free in this week's Super 6 round. Play for free, entries by 3pm Saturday.

Around Sky