The 2016-17 Premier League season kicks off this weekend and supporters around the globe are ready to see what their clubs have in store for them ahead. One of the most anticipated fixtures this week takes place at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, as Arsene Wenger and Arsenal host Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool FC. Two of the best managers in the league bring together two talented squads in what should be a fast-paced and entertaining affair.
We highlight areas that will be interesting to watch out for when the two teams meet on the pitch.
MIDFIELD CHOICES FOR ARSENAL
Utilising a 4-2-3-1 formation, Arsene Wenger has a tremendous amount of various options to fill midfield roles on the club’s roster.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil both provide pace and creativity that cannot be ignored and should figure prominently into Wenger’s starting lineups. However, what to make of the remaining positions is where the decisions become a bit more involved.
Coming off of an incredible performance with Wales at Euro 2016, where will Aaron Ramsey find his place?
Despite limited appearances last season, Santi Cazorla was looking to contribute more regularly. Along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and wide players like Joel Campbell and Theo Walcott, we will see a glimpse of Wenger’s plans this weekend at the Emirates.
All will undoubtedly find the time and contribute to the upcoming campaign, but how much all will contribute may be another story.
One of the major signings of this summer’s transfer window, Swiss international midfielder Granit Xhaka figures to make Wenger’s lineup choices even more challenging.
Coming off of an impressive season with Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany’s Bundesliga, Xhaka brings incredible skills and passing ability to the North London side.
Most likely taking on one of the defensive midfield roles in the lineup, Wenger will not necessarily want to keep Xhaka from getting forward into the attack. We could see Arsenal adapt their formation and tactics to fit their new signing’s skillset.
HOW MUCH WILL THE GEGENPRESS PRESS?
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has brought to the club a proven, successful system during his time in charge of Borussia Dortmund earlier this decade known as “gegenpressing”.
The pressing method involves forwards and midfielders holding a high line, putting constant pressure on the opposing side. Possession is won back quickly, and goals are scored are even quicker, if all goes correctly of course.
When used the right way, Liverpool and their talented midfielders like Philippe Coutinho and Firminio score goals on the break and in transition.
But against strong sides like Arsenal, Liverpool can be undone by possession and the ability to counterattack. Klopp’s tactics and formation versus Wenger’s side may be modified on Sunday.
The most exciting Liverpool transfer of the summer is 25-year old Dutch International Wijnaldum. The midfielder brings with him an excellent vision, pace and an impressive goal scoring prowess.
His one-man demolition of Norwich City last season was one of the highlights of 2015-16 (of which there were few for Newcastle United). How he will be used in Klopp’s lineup throughout the season could certainly change, as he can play wide as well as centrally.
Expect Wijnaldum to play a significant role in the outcome of this match.
Yes, it was only a friendly and in the grand scheme of things did not mean anything. But you’d have to think there is a swagger in Liverpool’s step after last weekend’s 4-0 victory over Barcelona.
Klopp’s side was ecstatic and excited after such a big win in front of a worldwide audience. There is certainly the possibility of Arsenal surprising Liverpool with a stronger performance than they saw from Barca at Wembley Stadium.
Few matchups this opening weekend in the Premier League feature better squads than Arsenal and Liverpool. The Emirates should see a thriller on Sunday.