Arsenal will meet Liverpool this weekend and although the Reds are the current holders of the Premier League title, Mikel Arteta has proved in the past that he’s capable of beating Jurgen Klopp.
The Gunners boss is criticised at times for his willingness to build from the back, as it can result in costly errors materialising as a result of players making mistakes under pressure.
Of all of the goalkeepers in the Premier League this season, no player has launched a lower percentage of his passes – excluding goal-kicks – than Bernd Leno, with a launch defined as a pass that travels more than 40 yards.
Liverpool will welcome that willingness to play short and build through the thirds of the pitch because of the reward that it could possibly deliver, but at the same time, Klopp will remember what has happened in the past.
The Gunners lifted the Community Shield in August 2020 after beating the Anfield outfit on penalties, with the contest ending 1-1 after 90 minutes.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring on the day, and exactly how he managed to do that offers an insight into the type of situation that the Gunners try to create this weekend.
Arteta’s players opted to build from the back as expected, which enticed Klopp’s players into pressing high up the field; Emi Martinez had the ball at his feet before passing short to Mohamed Elneny, who then passed to Rob Holding and then Hector Bellerin, shown below.
Once the Spanish full-back received the ball, he played down the line to Bukayo Saka, with six Liverpool players bypassed as Arsenal continued to attack.
As a consequence of how Klopp likes his team to defend – by closing down as a unit, remaining compact and focusing on space rather than opponents – the Reds shuffled over towards Saka so that he couldn’t progress, shown below.
However, Aubameyang remained isolated on the opposite side of the pitch as though he had been directly instructed, which is likely considering Liverpool’s approach to defending and how much weaker their right side was as opposed to their left.
Saka managed to switch the ball to Aubameyang, allowing the 31 year-old to cut inside before finishing, with Kieran Tierney overlapping while Ainsley Maitland-Niles made an underlapping run.
The move featured the Gunners luring Liverpool forward and to one half of the field, and it involved a switch of play in the direction of the team’s best finisher.
It will be difficult to achieve again with the same flawless execution, but Liverpool aren’t their usual selves this year and their defence looks set to consist of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips, both of whom are working on their new partnership.
If Arsenal are to start the final stretch in a positive manner by securing three points, manifesting a comparable scenario to the above will help towards delivering that.