Arsenal visits Man City, Liverpool hosts Chelsea in early football showdown


Liverpool and Chelsea meet in an early showdown between title contenders, while Arsenal aims to break a bad run against champion Manchester City in the Premier League weekend

The Premier League prepares to witness two heavyweight meetings on Saturday, with Liverpool hosting Chelsea, while Arsenal visits champion Manchester City earlier in the day.

Arsenal travels north to Manchester after losing its two opening matches of the Premier League season – at promoted Brentford and to Champions League winner Chelsea last weekend.

Despite ending last season with five straight league wins, Arsenal came eighth for the second campaign in a row, the first time it had finished that low in the table for consecutive seasons since a run of four between 1973-74 and 1976-77.

Saturday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium, where City got its season up and running last weekend with a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich, and a ground where Mikel Arteta worked as an assistant coach between 2016-2019, is not ideal for the Spaniard.

City is unbeaten in its last 11 league games against Arsenal since a 2-1 defeat at The Emirates in December 2015 and has taken 28 out of a possible 30 points against the Gunners under coach Pep Guardiola.

Arsenal has lost each of its last eight league meetings with City, its joint-longest run of consecutive defeats against a specific opponent in its history.

Arteta, however, is not panicking.

“I know they (fans) are disappointed when you lose at home. There has to be some reaction. But this is a project that is going to take some time,” he told Arsenal’s website this week, according to Reuters.

“You can see and tell from the recruitment what we’ve done and the really young squad that we have at the moment and it (improvement) cannot happen overnight.”

City was dealt a transfer blow this week with target Harry Kane declaring he will stay at Tottenham Hotspur as the defending champion remains without a replacement for all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero, who left for Barcelona in the close season.

Guardiola’s side has been linked in British media with a sensational move for Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo, but nothing has materialized as yet.

Liverpool vs. Chelsea

One team very much on the up is Arsenal’s London rival Chelsea, which also heads north, to Liverpool, for a tough encounter on Saturday.

Liverpool and Chelsea have started the 2021-22 league campaign with two wins, two clean sheets and five goals scored, with the pair looking primed to challenge City for the title.

Club-record signing Romelu Lukaku hit the ground running last weekend on his second Chelsea debut in a 2-0 win at Arsenal and is set to lead the line against Liverpool.

Lukaku, however, faces a much tougher test at a full Anfield with Liverpool rejuvenated by the return of fans and talismanic center-back Virgil van Dijk from injury.

The Dutchman’s presence has seen Jurgen Klopp’s men keep two clean sheets in their opening games against Norwich and Burnley.

But goalkeeper Alisson Becker acknowledged that beating Chelsea would send a far stronger signal to their title rivals that Liverpool is back to its best.

“For what we believe and for what we want to achieve, it’s a good sign because you are playing one of the favourite sides in the title race and if you can beat one of these sides it’s always good for you to give confidence,” the Brazilian was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“We won the Premier League before and we know that we need to think always about the next challenge that we have in front of us, so this game is important.”

Chelsea and Liverpool are two of five teams to take maximum points from two games alongside West Ham, Tottenham and Brighton.