Premier League preview: Arsenal look to close the gap on Liverpool

By on December 15, 2023

We have another exciting weekend of Premier League action to look forward to as Arsenal look to reclaim top spot from Liverpool.

The Gunners lead the way heading into Matchweek 16 but slipped up after crashing to a disappointing 1-0 defeat away to Aston Villa. The Villains have now moved up to third in the table, just one point behind Arsenal, so they are putting themselves in contention to be title contenders this season.

Liverpool took full advantage of Arsenal’s slip-up after moving top of the table with a late 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The Merseysiders now lead the way heading into this weekend but with only four points separating them from fourth-placed Manchester City, it’s all to play for at the top of the table.

Let’s take a closer look at some of this weekend’s key games at the summit:

Arsenal vs Brighton

The Gunners will be desperate to get back to winning ways after the 1-0 defeat away to Aston Villa last weekend. John McGinn’s early strike proved enough for Villa to claim all three points, but once again the game wasn’t without it’s controversies.

Arsenal had a strong shout for a penalty on Gabriel Jesus waived away before the officials ruled out Kai Havertz late equaliser for a contentious handball offence. The North Londoners will also be frustrated with their lack of cutting edge in the final third as they had ample opportunities to get themselves back on level terms.

Mikel Arteta’s side now sit one point behind Liverpool in the table, and with the leaders hosting rivals Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, Arsenal will be keen to put the pressure on the Merseysiders with a win over Brighton earlier in the day that would see them reclaim top spot.

A much changed Arsenal side were also held to a 1-1 draw in their final Champions League group game on Tuesday night. Eddie Nketiah opened the scoring with a fine goal but PSV drew level just after half-time thanks to a lovely finish from Yorbe Vertessen. Arsenal could have won it at the death but Leandro Trossard missed a great chance in stoppage time so the Londoners settled for a draw.

It was a dead rubber as both sides had already booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League, but Arteta would have liked to sign off with a win in Holland. The Spanish coach will now be looking to get his side back to winning ways when they welcome the Seagulls to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Brighton should be high on confidence heading to the capital after finishing top of their Europa League group with a win over Marseille last night. They’ve picked up four points from their last two Premier League games against Brentford and Burnley to sit eighth in the table. Roberto De Zebri’s side are a dangerous outfit that will cause Arsenal plenty of problems so this is a big game for the Gunners.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Brighton

Liverpool vs Manchester United

League leaders Liverpool welcome fierce North-West rivals Manchester United to Anfield on Sunday afternoon. The Reds climbed to the summit with a comeback win over Crystal Palace last weekend. Harvey Elliott was the hero as he came off the bench to score a stoppage time winner after Mohamed Salah has cancelled out Palace’s early goal.

Liverpool hold a slender one point lead over Arsenal but can make a statement in the title race and make it clear to Arsenal and Manchester City that they’re ready to make it a three-horse race this season with a win over United.

The Merseysiders overhauled their midfield after a poor 2022/23 campaign and it appears to have worked as a rejuvenated Liverpool are grinding out results this season. They left it late to beat Fulham 4-3 at home earlier this month before edging past Sheffield United and Palace. So while Jurgen Klopp’s men might not be at their best yet, they are still finding a way to win games and that bodes well for them.

Liverpool should be confident of beating a beleaguered Man Utd side at Anfield this weekend. The Red Devils head into the game in woeful form having been thrashed 3-0 by Bournemouth at Old Trafford last weekend. They then crashed out of the Champions League with a whimper after losing 1-0 at home to Bayern Munich in midweek so Erik ten Hag is under growing pressure to turn things around.

Man Utd currently sit sixth in the table – 10 points adrift of Liverpool – so they desperately need a positive result at Anfield to get their campaign back on track. No matter the form of both teams, this is always one of the most highly anticipated games of the season and there should be a great atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday. The game will no doubt be sold out but fans can still buy Liverpool vs Manchester United tickets at trusted reseller sites such as seatsnet.com.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Man Utd

Manchester City vs Crystal Palace

The defending champions will be looking to close the gap on the leaders with a win over Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon. City have stumbled lately as they went four games without a win in the Premier League having picked up just three points from games against Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Villa.

However, they got back to winning ways with a 2-1 comeback win at Luton Town last weekend. They then beat Red Star 3-2 in their final Champions League group game on Wednesday night so Pep Guardiola will be hoping that kick-starts a winning streak over the festive period.

Palace head to the Etihad after narrowly losing to Liverpool last week. Roy Hodgson felt his side were unfortunate to lose the game but it’s left them sitting 15th in the table having picked up just one point from their last five league games.

Hodgson is under pressure to get back on track to pull away from the relegation zone, but they face a huge task to get anything from the game against Manchester City this weekend. Palace have tough games against Brighton, Chelsea, Brentford and Arsenal to come over the coming weeks, so it’s not going to get much easier for them.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Crystal Palace

Aston Villa will also be looking to keep themselves in the mix with a win at Brentford on Sunday, while fifth-placed Tottenham take on Nottingham Forest on Friday night. It’s certainly going to be another exciting weekend of Premier League action as the teams at the top battle to put themselves in the reckoning for the title.