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Arsenal make the trip to Liverpool on Saturday afternoon as they return to Premier League action at Anfield.
The Gunners are one of the most in-form teams in the top-flight right now, with Mikel Arteta leading his side to 10 games unbeaten in all competitions following a poor start to the season.
They take on the Reds, who started the campaign in brilliant fashion, but have hit something of a stumbling block in recent games. Jurgen Klopp’s team were 2-0 up against Brighton at Anfield a few weeks ago, before the Seagulls pulled the match back and picked up a 2-2 draw against all odds.
Then, just over a week later, Liverpool were beaten 3-2 against West Ham United at the London Stadium, as Klopp’s men suffered their first defeat of the season.
Now, Klopp’s woes have worsened, with the Liverpool boss seeing a few of his star players pick up injuries on international duty.
Sadio Mane suffered an injury while playing for Senegal against Togo last week and was substituted in the first half of the clash, meaning he is now a doubt for Saturday’s match at Anfield, which is a huge blow for Klopp.
Mane has been one of the Premier League’s standout attackers in recent seasons and has started this term excellently, with the 29-year-old netting six times in the top flight in 11 appearances.
“Bobby is not good news with a serious hamstring injury, really unfortunate,” Klopp said.
“We don’t know exactly how long he will be out but it will be not now after the international break directly. We have to work on that.”
Liverpool are set to call upon one of Takumi Minamino or Divock Origi for the visit of Arsenal, but the forward duo have not had too much time on the pitch so far this season.
Someone else who is a doubt for Liverpool is Jordan Henderson, who was forced to withdraw from the England squad at the weekend, with the FA confirming the Reds captain had to return to his club for “further assessment of an injury”.
Andy Robertson is another concern for Klopp, as his fears come true, with the Liverpool left-back being taken off in Scotland’s win over Denmark on Monday evening, in what looked like a muscular problem.
Naby Keita is definitely out for the weekend, with the Reds star “out for a while”, according to Klopp, and James Milner, Joe Gomez and Curtis Jones are also doubts for Liverpool. Harvey Elliott is a long-term absentee.
However, even without these nine aforementioned stars, Liverpool still have one of the strongest squads in the Premier League and Arteta is all too aware about the threat posed from one of them – Virgil van Dijk.
The Netherlands captain has been arguably the best central defender in the Premier League since moving to Anfield from Southampton in January 2018 for £75million.
Van Dijk has set new standards as a centre-back, with his defensive capabilities being made to look easy and his ability in possession quite staggering. The Dutchman’s tendency to switch the play to one of the wingers is a large factor in Liverpool’s usually brilliant attack – and Arteta spoke about the “quality” weapon the Reds have last season.
Speaking after Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-1 last season, Arteta said: “They set incredible standards and they dominate every aspect of the game.
“They have different weapons. When you go to the opposite side and do the high press perfect, they have Van Dijk and he plays a 60-yard pass into Salah’s chest and they are out. That’s quality.”
Arsenal will have to be well aware of Van Dijk’s long passing when they go head-to-head with Liverpool on Saturday, but the Gunners will be looking to cause their own danger as they hope to continue their recent momentum.