Arsenal team news: Predicted XI vs Liverpool with Havertz dilemma | Football | Sport

Arsenal face Liverpool in a huge contest at the summit of the Premier League tonight (5.30pm kick-off) knowing that victory would put them top of table for Christmas Day. The Gunners face their title rivals at Anfield where they have not won in the league since 2012 and victory this evening would be quite the statement from Mikel Arteta’s team. Express Sport looks at how the Spaniard could line up on Merseyside…

Goalkeeper: Raya

On-loan David Raya is firmly the No 1 over Aaron Ramsdale for Arsenal now and he’s kept five clean sheets in 12 matches. Though there have been some suspect moments at times, Ramsdale will not be starting these high-profile fixtures again unless injury strikes.

Raya has not kept a league clean sheet away from home since September 30, conceding seven goals in trips to Aston Villa, Luton, Newcastle and Chelsea. Only the Luton match was a victory for the north Londoners, so Raya will be hoping for a sturdier display here.

Defence: White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko

William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes have started 13 of Arsenal’s 17 Premier League matches together. In that time they have conceded just 12 goals and the Gunners have the joint-best defensive record in the league alongside Liverpool (15 conceded).

With Jurrien Timber still out injured, Ben White is another near ever-present for Arteta and will start at right-back, where he will come up against Luis Diaz. Takehiro Tomiyasu is another absentee who the visitors would ideally liked to have called upon.

The Japanese defender would have been the preferred option against Mohamed Salah but Oleksandr Zinchenko will be the man tasked with containing the influential Egyptian.

Midfield: Odegaard, Rice, Havertz

Arteta is highly likely to pick an unchanged Arsenal team for the third straight Premier League match. But he does have one dilemma – if Jorginho is fit after missing the Brighton win, should the Italian come into midfield to help Zinchenko against Salah?

Thomas Partey surely would have started this one if fit after all. But Arteta will probably stick with the same formula that helped his team to arguably their best performance of the season against Brighton.

That’s signing of the summer Declan Rice as the No 6 with Kai Havertz and Martin Odegaard the two No 8s. Havertz will be required to put in the hard yards defensively but at the other end he can offer extra goal threat and particular some physicality against the likes of Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk.

Attack: Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

Arsenal’s front three of Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka ran riot in the first half at Anfield last season and will be eager to do so again this term. Martinelli has four goals against Liverpool – more than against any other opponent in his career.

Similarly, Jesus has six goals in 14 matches against the Reds for Arsenal, and before that Manchester City, so will hope to extend that tally here. Saka will be tasked with pinning back-up Liverpool left-back Kostas Tsimikas back and running directly at him.

Arsenal predicted team vs Liverpool in full: Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Rice, Havertz; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

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