Liverpool — Arsenal (Premier League)
The Gunners are top-dogs once again and they’ll be heading to Anfield on Saturday hoping to remain so. The hosts will take the chance to shake-off last weekend’s stumble and get some payback for November’s defeat.
On Sunday Liverpool was held to a 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns by West Ham, a surprise result that widen the gap to the top pack. Daniel Sturridge scored in the first-half but Victor Amichebe managed an equalizer in the 67th minute. Manager Brendan Rodgers said this was a game his side should have won and we can only speculate has to how much the points dropped will affect their standings at the end of the season. They sit in 4th place, with 47 points, 6 adrift from Chelsea and City, 8 from their next opposition.
At Anfield Road, on Saturday odds are the Gunners will dominate the midfield. That’s what happened last time they went head-to-head in November and Liverpool had Lucas Leiva in then. Without him is hard to pick a Liverpool player capable of halting Arsenal’s passing skills. Having said that, Rodgers is a man of plans and tactics, so he is sure to pounder on this difficult. Let’s see what he’s got in store for Arsenal. Liverpool’s track-record at home is not to be taken lightly, they have 10 wins for 12 fixtures, the Saints were the only ones that caused them to lose points there.
Lucas Leiva, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, José Enrique, Sebastián Coates and Glen Johnson are all sidelined with injuries.
Probable line-up: Mignolet — Flannagan, Skrtel, Touré, Cissokho — Coutinho, Gerrard, Henderson — Sterling, Suarez, Sturridge.
With a clear 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace — and City breaking down — Arsenal are back atop of the Premier League. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is really stepping up, the brace is undeniable proof. His second hit was a beautiful example of the talent and energy he’s exhibiting. And even more significant, of complicity with Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal’s immediate future holds a daunting schedule. In 10 days they will have to deal with the guys from Liverpool twice — League and FA Cup —, host Manchester United and face Bayern Munich in the first leg Champions League Round of 16. Enough for Arsène Wenger lose his sleep. And this is it, the decisive part of the season. All indications point to a Premier League title that can be contested right to the final fixtures. Gunners’ drought of trophies prevent them from downplaying the cup. And then there is the European title, time and time again illusive to Wenger’s squad. They are compelled to have a go at all three with the weapons at hand. The game ahead is always the most important one and Arsenal’s men will have to focus one tie at the time.
Three months ago, in the reverse fixture, the Gunners were utterly superior all the way. The Reds had no arguments to rebut Arsenal midfield’s intelligence, passes and movement. This time around, however, they’ll have to make do without Aaron Ramsey and we all know how instrumental he has been in the balance of the centre of the pitch. To make matters worse Flamini continues suspended and Wilshere is still doubtful.
Abou Diaby, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and new signing Kim Kallstrom share the treatment room.
Probable line-up: Szczesny — Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna — Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arteta — Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla — Giroud.
Last time around everyone predicted a tight match and it ended up being a comprehensive victory for the Gunners. They broke Liverpool’s midfield and won the game there. They also have history on their side, they are unbeaten for their last 5 visits to Anfield and victorious in 3 of them. Nevertheless, the Reds have shown great football and an amazing attack power this season.