Date: 22nd August 2019 at 7:30am
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OPINION

The old adage goes that you do not fight fire with fire but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp may well be considering countering Arsenal’s plans when the Gunners visit Anfield.

The Reds are joined by Unai Emery’s men at the top of the Premier League table after perfect starts to their respective campaigns, meaning this early clash holds a little bit of added incentive for both.

Liverpool are of course wanting to go one better than they did last season, while the north Londoners will be wanting to break back into the top four after another season without Champions League football.

Both sides go into Saturday’s showdown off the back of a 2-1 victory, Liverpool seeing off Southampton and Arsenal beating Burnley, with Klopp and Emery both missing important players from their side.

While the Reds will not be able to call upon Allison in goal, their rivals may well be able to call upon defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka after his injury problems, the Daily Mail reporting that he has returned to training behind-the-scenes ahead of their trip to Merseyside.

The Swiss international is not only a combative presence in the middle of the pitch though, as he also offers Arsenal a wide range of passing which can hurt the opposition.

According to WhoScored, he averaged 77.4 passes a game in the Premier League last season, as well as 5.5 through balls for the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to feed off.

Liverpool cannot afford to let him run the game should he return, which is why Klopp needs to nullify Xhaka with a midfield enforcer of his own.

Fabinho started against Southampton on the bench after playing 120 minutes in the Super Cup, but one of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner or Georginio Wijnaldum needs to be axed to fit him in.

No other Liverpool midfielder made as many interceptions, tackles, clearances or blocks as the Brazilian enforcer did in the top flight last season and while his 57.5 average passes per game were some way behind Xhaka’s record, it was still among the highest at Anfield.

Xhaka’s return to action could help Arsenal’s stars run like a Swiss watch – Fabinho’s return is the hammer Klopp needs to disrupt the Gunners.