Arsenal will welcome Liverpool on Saturday trying not to remember the infamous 5-1 battering they received by an inspired display from the reds. Arsene Wenger would be hoping for better result this time around because that 5-1 defeat came at the similar phase in the league last season and it derailed Arsenal’s form and confidence very badly.
There will be plenty at stake when these two giants of English football go head to head at Emirates. Liverpool will be desperate for a win to drag themselves back in top 4 race after their defeat against Manchester United. Liverpool are 5 points behind the top 4 finish at the moment.
On the other hand, Arsenal with a win could go 2nd in the league, while for many that would seem as not a big achievement but given the fact Arsenal have failed to finish 2nd or above in their last 10 seasons, this feat would set them right for the next season.
Based on the recent form, Arsenal and Liverpool are one of the best sides in the league at the moment. Since their 2-1 defeat against Tottenham in February, Arsene Wenger’s side have won nine of the last 10 games in all competitions, while have lost just 1 league game (vs United) since mid-December.
Arsenal would set up to avoid getting caught on the break. Inclusion of Francis Coquelin would be the key for Arsenal as he has proved to be the difference in Arsenal’s recent big games. A midfield trio of Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey would be the key in behind the deadly Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal’s probable line-up to face Liverpool
Arsenal have got goals in their side. Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud both have hit the double figures and with Giroud scoring 5 goals in his last 4 games will be gunning for a Liverpool defence without the key defender Martin Skrtel.
Arsene Wenger could decide to rest Per Mertesacker in favour of Gabriel as Liverpool have got speedy players up front and the German has been known to get caught on the break against deadly speed.
Liverpool will travel to Emirates having equalled a unique club record of maintaining 6 away clean sheets in a row. Brendan Rodgers has found a unique 3-2-4-1 formation which sees Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen control the midfield and give the likes of Raheem Sterling, Phillipe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge enough time to create havoc in opponent’s defences.
Liverpool’s probable line-up to face Arsenal
Liverpool’s forte over the last 18 months has been the speed they have used to blow out their opponents. Rodgers has seen them reduce significantly over the last few weeks. Rodgers must instal the self-belief in his players to go out and play without fear. Raheem Sterling’s form would be the key things to watch out as the contract rebel will play for the first time since his interview with BBC.
Brendan Rodgers will have to make a key decision regarding Liverpool’s striker for this game as Daniel Sturridge is a doubt with his injury and rest are not in form. Perhaps former Arsenal target Mario Balotelli could prove to be the difference for the reds.
Arsenal will be hopeful for Danny Welbeck’s quick recovery from his knee problem while playing for England against Lithuania.
Arsene Wenger has Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere back in training but the manager might not risk either of them for this all-important clash.
For Liverpool both stamp collectors Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel suspended for their trip to Emirates. Brendan Rodgers would be hoping for his key men Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Dejan Lovren and Jordon Ibe are all fit to face Arsneal this weekend.
OPTA MATCH FACTS
- This game has produced five Premier League hat-tricks – more than any other fixture.
- Arsene Wenger’s side have won 14 of 16 games since New Year’s Day, including nine wins from 10 league matches.
- Arsenal have scored in all 22 of their league and cup games at the Emirates this season.
- Liverpool can set a club record by keeping a clean sheet in a seventh consecutive top-flight away match. Their current six-match streak equals sequences recorded in 1966 and 1972.
- The Reds have claimed 26 Premier League points in 2015 – only Arsenal, with 27, have a better record.
- Defeat to Manchester United was their first loss in 14 league games (W10, D3).
Both teams would be up for this battle as plenty is up for stake in this match. Arsenal have been invincible at home in recent weeks and in Olivier Giroud, they have a proven match winner. Liverpool travel to Emirates knowing that their match against Arsenal could be a make or break game in their season.
Seeing what’s at stake, I fancy the home side to take control over the proceedings and Liverpool would pay for trying too hard to get the result. Giroud’s scoring run would be the key for Arsene Wenger and I expect Arsenal to win this 2-1 on the night and push for the 2nd place finish in the league.
Stats Credits: Opta