Premier League football resumes following a rather predictable third round of the Football Association Cup as gameweek 21 promises mouth-watering fixtures, including top-four battles and relegation dogfights.
The Gunners do not have fresh injury concerns, but then, no injured player has recuperated to be in contention to feature in the midweek fixture. Alexis Sanchez who was initially pencilled in to return in time for Liverpool clash has been ruled out due to fitness issues, despite manager Arsene Wenger revealing the determination of the Chilean to be involved.
Mesut Ozil cheered for his teammates from the stands on Saturday afternoon and can be expected to be in the starting eleven, with his pal Mathieu Flamini taking over the holding midfield position from Calum Chambers. Kieran Gibbs will likely be reinstated to the bench after his howler that led to the Jeremain Lens goal, with Nacho Monreal coming back into the side. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be sacrificed for Aaron Ramsey, who found the back of the net after coming off the bench.
Liverpool, on the other hand, saw Jordan Ibe join a dozen other first-team players on the treatment table, with a hamstring injury and he will likely miss the high-profile fixture. Mamadou Sakho will be available to partner Kolo Toure at the heart of the defence, but the manager has not confirmed whether he would start him. Jurgen Klopp revealed that Jordan Henderson and James Milner could be in the squad, but failed to give assurances over their fitness.
Arsenal have lately struggled at Liverpool, having shipped seven goals in their last two visits, but they go into this game as clear favourites. A potential fifth win in six league games will boost the morale of the team ahead of their difficult run of fixtures.
For the hosts, however, the scenario is quite different as they sit eighth in the Premier League table – six points off Champions League spots. However, an unlikely victory will give them a major boost in their bid for European qualification.
Liverpool v Arsenal Possible Line Ups:
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Toure, Sakho, Moreno; Can, Lucas, Milner, Firmino, Lallana; Benteke
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Flamini, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Campbell; Giroud
- Liverpool have managed to run away victors over the visitors just once in nine meetings in all competitions, but did so in emphatic fashion, putting five past Wojciech Szczesny. However, the London side answered in style one year later with a 4-1 victory at Emirates Stadium.
- This fixture has seen more hat-tricks than any other in Premier League history, with Russian winger Andrey Arshavin being the latest of the five players to have taken the match ball home in a thrilling game that ended 4-4.
- Jurgen Klopp has won only five of his 12 league matches in charge of Liverpool (W5, D3, L4).
- They have scored just 14 goals in those matches, including two in their last four.
- The Gunners are unbeaten in nine Premier League home games but have won just one of their last four away fixtures.
- Arsenal have scored the first goal of the game on 14 occasions in the top flight this season, more often than any other team.
Stats via BBC
Arsenal clearly have an upper hand, despite being victims of the wrath of injuries themselves, given their unreal run of form. As the Gunners have finally broken the psychological barrier against big clubs, they can be expected to run the show in front of the Kop.