19 min “I’m hoping that the three-team title race goes to the last round, which admittedly is unlikely,” says Kári Tulinius. “In fact, off the top of my head, the only recent example I can think of was in Ligue 1 in 2021, when Monaco, PSG and Lille all could win on the last matchday. But I’m sure I’m forgetting an obvious example.”
The English season of 1971-72 is a peculiar gem, summed up by the fact the eventual champions were 8-1 to win the title after they’d played their final game. I did a bit on it in an old Joy of Six, but I’d recommend reading more about it – I think there’s a book about it, published by Pithc.
18 min Liverpool have been behind in a million games this season, the majority of which they have gone on to win, so they won’t be worried yet.
Havertz played a big part in the goal, making a timely run behind the defence to receive Odegaard’s pass. Alisson made a fine save but Saka collected the rebound and calmly lifted it over Konate on the line.
It was Konate who was playing Havertz onside in the first place. Liverpool’s defensive line was ragged after Van Dijk was drawn towards the play.
Bukayo Saka missed one sitter. He was never going to miss two.
12 min: Chance for Liverpool! This is warming up nicely. Mac Allister angles a beautiful pass into Gakpo, lurking behind the centre-halves 30 yards from goal and being played onside by Zinchenko. He moves to the edge of the area and cracks a low shot wide of the far post. Saliba was getting back so he had to take the shot on.
11 min: Great chance for Arsenal! Raya claims a cross and flings it out to Martinelli on the left. He destroys Konate – Konate! – for speed, runs to the left edge of the area and lifts a superb cross intop the middle. Saka stoops to meet it, eight yards out, but doesn’t connect properly with his header and the ball rolls to safety on the far side. That was a terrific chance, one that Mick Harford would have buried even now, at the age of 64.
7 min When the ball goes out of play, Odegaard waves his arms in an attempt to get the crowd going. Arsenal have made a decent start: nowhere near 2022-23 speed (they were already 1-0 up against Liverpool at this stage of last season’s game) but with plenty of purposeful possession. No, that alliteration wasn’t deliberate.
5 min “Auguries,” muses Charles Antaki. “Good: the Emirates cabin staff are back, grinning maniacally as the players come out of the tunnel. It worked for Arsène, most of the time. Bad: Arsenal women lost earlier today with what seems to be the club’s emerging brand of Failing To Put The Ball In The Net. So, mixed.”
They lost? Crikey, so they did.
4 min Saka gets the wrong side of Van Dijk in the area, but Gravenberch gets back to make a good tackle.
3 min Liverpool have started with Jota up front and Gakpo roaming from the right. Arsenal have Jorginho playing to the left of Rice in a 4-2-1-3.
1 min Almost a chance for Jota inside 40 seconds! A routine long ball from Van Dijk towards Gakpo caused problems for Arsenal. It bounced past Gakpo and Gabriel before reaching Jota, who got the wrong side of Zinchenko on the edge of the area but took a heavy touch that allowed Raya to come out and claim.
1 min Peep peep! Liverpool, in their purple change strip, kick off from right to left as we watch.
Here come the players. There are lot of gamefaces on show in the Emirates tunnel; everyone knows this is
Jurgen Klopp on Conor Bradley
The best place for him to be is around his family. That’s where we sent him straight away. It’s very sad news; there’s not a lot more to say. I told him to take as long as he needs.
The build-up to this game has been notable for a refreshing lack of hype. There’s no need: everyone knows this is the biggest game of Premier League game season to date. Besides, words like ‘huge’ and ‘epohcal’ lost their meaning years ago when journalists started using them to preview Crystal Palace v Everton.
This is a genuinely big game. It’s only February, so the title isn’t up for grabs nowwwww, but it could be out of Arsenal’s reach if they lose. If they win, on the other hand, a rare three-way title race will be well and truly on.
Gabriel Jesus is injured, so Kai Havertz starts up front for Arsenal – as he did in the FA Cup defeat last month, when he troubled Liverpool with his ghostly movement only to miss some excellent chances. Jorginho replaces Emile Smith Rowe in midfield.
Liverpool are without Conor Bradley, whose father died over the weekend after a long illness. Trent Alexander-Arnold replaces him at right-back, one of three changes from the win over Chelsea in midweek. Dominik Szoboszlai is injured and Darwin Nunez is only fit enough for the bench; Ryan Gravenberch and Cody Gakpo replace them. Thiago Alcantara, who hasn’t played for a year, is back on the bench.
Arsenal (possible 4-2-1-3) Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Jorginho, Rice; Odegaard; Saka, Havertz, Martinelli.
Substitutes: Ramsdale, Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Kiwior, Cedric, Trossard, Nelson, Elneny, Walters.
Liverpool (possible 4-1-2-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Gomez; Gravenberch, Mac Allister, Jones; Gakpo, Jota, Diaz.
Substitutes: Thiago, Nunez, Adrian, Elliott, Robertson, Clark, McConnell, Kelleher, Quansah.
Referee Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).
Preamble? No no no. Arsenal v Liverpool don’t need no preamble.