Liverpool Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups
For those that don’t know, Anfield has become a happy hunting ground for the Gunners as Arsene Wenger and his troops have managed to edge out their hosts with three victories in the last four encounters at Anfield. Arsenal’s last Premier League defeat on this ground was as far back as 2007, when a superb Peter Crouch hat-trick won the game for the hosts. In the 12 meetings between the two sides since then, Liverpool have only managed one victory – 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium in August 2011.
Following Chelsea’s surprise win at the Etihad Stadium, the Gunners hold a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League and they are about to enter a very tough run of fixtures that will see them play Manchester United on Tuesday, Liverpool in the FA Cup and the hosting of the defending European champions, Bayern Munich.
After Arsenal defeated Liverpool at the Emirates in November, Brendan Rodgers declared his side out of the title race but Liverpool were on top at Christmas before successive losses to Manchester City and Chelsea sent them further down the chasing pack. Their crosstown rivals, Everton, are breathing down their necks for the final coveted Champions League spot they currently occupy.
Liverpool have only conceded eight goals at home this season but they have only managed to win one of their last 13 league games (W1, D7, L5) against Arsenal and have won none of the last six at Anfield. Liverpool have scored 15 goals from set pieces compared to Arsenal’s five and they also top the League for the amount of goals scored on the counter attack with five, showcasing their attacking prowess.
However, Liverpool have made 29 errors leading to a goal or attempt at goal this season – the most in the top flight and Martin Skrtel tops the league with the most amount of own goals scored with two. The Gunners would be hoping for a third own goal from the Slovak.
Much will be talked about the world-famous S.A.S that has ripped defenses apart this season. In the 11 league games that Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have played together this season, the only team to stop them both scoring is Arsenal.
Luis Suarez has scored 23 goals in only 19 Premier League games this season while Daniel Sturridge has scored in 13 of his 16 league appearances this season, scoring 14 in total. The Englishman’s goal against West Brom was his 50th in the Premier League. He is the 10th English player to reach that landmark before turning 25.
Sturridge has attempted 49 shots of which 27 were on target, giving him an accuracy of 55%. However, he has only managed to convert 29% of his chances and half of his clear-cut chances with eight. He has created 15 chances from open play and three of these resulted in assists.
Arsene Wenger has even acknowledged that he has to keep S.A.S quiet to get something out of the game,
“We need to dominate the game in order to keep [Luis] Suarez and [Daniel] Sturridge quiet. We must control possession.
“We had some good wins at Anfield. I have a lot of respect for the fans there, they know their football.”I think Liverpool are strong offensively with Sturridge, Suarez, [Philippe] Coutinho, [Raheem] Sterling and [Steven] Gerrard.
“Liverpool are in a better position than to when we last played them. They have momentum with them.”
Arsenal are chasing a third successive league win at Anfield. The last time they managed that feat was between 10 February 1973 and 9 November 1974. Arsenal were the last team to stop Liverpool scoring in the league and their goalie, Wojciech Szczesny, has the more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the league this season with 11.
Arsenal’s tally of 26 points won away from home is the joint best in the top flight, along with Tottenham and since the resounding loss to Manchester City in December, the Gunners are unbeaten in eight league games (W6, D2) despite failing to score a first-half goal in seven of those matches.
To injuries, the Gunners welcome back Jack Wilshere (ankle), while fellow midfielder Mikel Arteta (calf) should also feature. Aaron Ramsey (thigh) suffered a setback, Thomas Vermaelen (knee), Kim Kallstrom (back) will play no part, and Mathieu Flamini is suspended.
Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby (both knee) are long-term absentees.
Liverpool on the other hand, will once again be unable to call on defenders Daniel Agger (calf), Glen Johnson (ankle/groin) and Mamadou Sakho (hamstring). Midfielder Lucas Leiva and defender Jose Enrique (both knee) are also unavailable.
To team news, the Gunners would be hopeful that Santi Cazorla steps up yet again against the team he has scored twice in his last three appearances. The Spaniard has created 33 chances for his team with 25 of these coming from open play. However, only three have been recorded as assists. His most recent assist came against Crystal Palace where he threaded a beautiful pass to the Ox that finished aplomb.
The Gunners will also be hinging their hopes on the mercurial Mesut Ozil, that has the second most assists (8) in the league behind Wayne Rooney’s nine. Olivier Giroud says that he wants the team to prove their doubters wrong – we could do with some goals from the bloke today.
My predicted lineups for both sides are,
ahead of the game. Arsène Wenger can underline the point with a victory, but this is the first in a sequence of matches that will test the Gunners’ resolve to go the distance.
They have not buckled so far, but it is trips to Anfield that are often the definition of championship material.