Liverpool travel to the Premier League’s in-form side hoping to not only end Arsenal’s six-game winning run and close the gap on Manchester United to two points with a win at the Emirates.
The Reds will have do that without Martin Skrtel and Steven Gerrard, as both of them are serving the first of a three-game ban for their stamps on David De Gea and Ander Herrera in their last league game.
The Gunners on the other hand, have been in sublime form and even a couple of injuries to key players doesn’t seem to be affecting their play. Their remarkable run of nine wins and just two league defeats in 2015 have put them in third place, just a point behind Manchester City.
A victory will be crucial for both sides as they look to their respective goals for the rest season. Here are the three key battles that will decide the outcome of this crucial encounter.
1. Can Giroud isolate Can?
One of the reasons why the Reds lost to United was because the Red Devils were able to exploit a weakness that nobody had managed thus far this season. Accurate long passes to Marouane Fellaini, who drifted towards the left side, meant that Emre Can, who has been one of the side’s best performers, was out of the game. Not only did the Belgian get the better of him in the air, he didn’t allow him a moment on the ball and disrupted his passing rhythm.
In Olivier Giroud, the Gunners have an in-form striker who is brilliant in the air and could perform the same role that Fellaini did. Although Arsene Wenger’s side are less likely to play many long balls as United did, if the Frenchman can stick close to the German midfielder and bully him in the air, it will reduce his and Liverpool’s effectiveness and ability to play the ball out of the back.