Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield and will try to remember the performance which started their march to the top of the table, last season it was this game which changed the fortunes of both clubs with Liverpool starting a great unbeaten run and Arsenal falling off the pace. It was a battle of the top teams last season, this time it is about false promises and false dawns.
Liverpool are nowhere near the top 4 while Arsenal are still stuttering to climb into the top 4, both teams will be looking to get that important win, especially Liverpool who have been hit and miss, more miss than hit this season, they will be buoyed by the fact that they won a tough away game against Bournemouth in midweek while Arsenal will be looking to spoil the party at Anfield.
Liverpool will be missing Mario Balotelli who is serving a one match suspension handed down to him by the FA for a post on instagram earlier in the season, the Reds will also be without Glen Johnson and Daniel Sturridge, the latter still returning from a series of injuries he picked up and the pair will be looking to make comebacks in the new year.
Dejan Lovren is also a major doubt for the game after he picked up a knock against Bournemouth in midweek but Liverpool fans will be hoping that he does miss out on the starting XI.
Arsenal will be without Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey but Theo Walcott could make a comeback after a long layoff due to injury, they also have fitness tests lined up for Nacho Monreal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. One player who should slot back into the starting team for Arsenal is Calum Chambers; he should partner the German Per Mertersacker in the heart of Arsenal’s defence.
Raheem Sterling vs. Per Mertersacker
Playing in the striker’s role is a new position for Sterling, he was used in this position against Manchester United and shone against Bournemouth, and his pace will be something hard for Mertersacker to deal with.
Lucas vs. Mathieu Flamini
The battle of the defensive midfielders, Lucas has made Liverpool look like a much better team thanks to his defensive displays and Flamini is the only defensive midfielder that Arsene has. Whoever wins this battle in midfield could help the team control the pace of the game.
Kolo Toure vs. Alexis Sanchez
The Chilean has looked world class for the Gunners and would be looking to take on the Liverpool central defence which has looked massively shaky throughout the season. Kolo would need to have an exceptional game to keep the Chilean quiet.
This fixture has seen more hat tricks than any other fixture in the Premier League with 5 being scored.
Arsenal have been behind in 6 of the last 7 meetings at Anfield and have come back to draw 3 and win 2 of those six.
Alexis Sanchez has scored 7 and assisted 4 goals in the 17 goals Arsenal have scored in the Premier League this season.
Mario Balotelli has had more shots than any other player in the Premier League and he has still not scored in this competition.
Brendan Rodgers: “Internally, it will continue our spirit and our focus,They [Arsenal] did OK at home last week as well. They won 4-1, played really well against Newcastle, but we’ll be looking to focus on our game.
“They’ve got outstanding players, but the focus will be on ourselves and looking to bring our game in an important game.”
Arsene Wenger: “Every defeat hurts and every defeat is a scar in your heart forever, but we also have very good memories at Liverpool, We won many games at Liverpool as well and, even last year when we lost against them, a week later against the same team we won 2-1 at home in the FA Cup.
“We want to have continuity. It is a very important period now. Over the Christmas period, we play four Premier League games. At Christmas we’ll come back strongly in the league, I am sure.
“When you get over the hill in January, you look towards the end [of the season], and how you come out of the Christmas period is of course very important.”
Possible starting line ups:
Liverpool starting XI: Jones, Toure, Skrtel, Sakho, Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson, Markovic, Lallana, Sterling, Coutinho
Arsenal starting XI: Szczesny, Gibbs, Mertersacker, Chambers, Debuchy, Cazorla, Flamini, Oxlade- Chamberlain, Welbeck, Giroud, Sanchez
Prediction: Liverpool at home is always a tough task, Arsenal have more fire power than the Liverpool team this season, however with so much on the line for both clubs, it should end as a scored draw.
Quotes courtesy: Premier League
Picture courtesy: Standard, Express and the Times.