Liverpool Match Preview: Time to Create Some Space at the Top
At this point in the season, even the biggest optimists wouldn’t have imagined that Arsenal and Liverpool would be involved in a vital top of the table clash with a place at the summit of the table up for grabs.
Since Arsenal’s opening day defeat to Aston Villa, the Gunners went on a winning spree that was halted albiet temporarily at the hands of West Brom but the Gunners returned to winning ways in the league with a nervy win over Crystal Palace. Liverpool on the other hand have been in a rich vein of form, and they have only lost one match at home to Southampton.
The Gunners haven’t lost to Liverpool at home since August 2011 in a game the Reds got the goals from Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles. The last time both sides met at the Emirates, Suarez and Jordan Henderson got the away side ahead but the Gunners fought back with goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.
The goals have been flowing like water for Suarez this season since his return from his match ban and the Uruguayan forward and Daniel Sturridge have combined to score 14 out of Liverpool ‘s 17 goals in the Premier League so far this season. Olivier Giroud was in a temporary goal drought in the league but it was ended when he latched onto Aaron Ramsey ‘s inch-perfect chip against Crystal Palace.
Chelsea’s lunch time result against Newcastle will have an impact on this fixture and the Gunners need a victory to give themselves some space from Liverpool at the top. In Arsenal’s last six games in the league, they have recorded five victories at the draw against West Brom while Liverpool has amassed three victories, two draws and a loss.
To injuries, Mathieu Flamini remains sidelined with a groin injury, Walcott is still recuperating from his abdominal surgery and Serge Gnabry is still our with an ankle problem. On the bright side, Lukas Podolski posted on Instagram that he’s back to full fitness, Yaya Sanogo is on his way to fitness while the Ox and About Diaby are still long term absentees.
For Liverpool, there are still doubts over the fitness of Jose Enrique (knee) while Iago Aspas (thigh) and Sebastian Coates (knee) are still some way off first team football.
To team news, I’d expect a better and stronger lineup from the team that struggled badly against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup. Wojciech Szczesny would return in goal to replace Lukas Fabianski while Arsenal’s preferable defensive lineup of Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and thankfully, Bacary Sagna would resume normal service at the back.
With Mikel Arteta returning from his suspension, I expect him to start as Arsenal’s holding midfielder alongside Aaron Ramsey. Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Tomas Rosicky will start in the attacking midfield roles while Olivier Giroud will spearhead the attack after Nicklas Bendtner ‘s horror showing on Tuesday night.
The game promises to be a feisty encounter and I hope Arsenal does enough to ease out the threat Liverpool would pose because this is regarded as a true test for both sides.