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Premier League

  • March 3, 2012
  • • 12:45
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: M. Halsey
  • • Attendance: 44922

Liverpool - Arsenal Preview: Champions League contenders eager to capitalise on morale-boosting wins last weekend

The Gunners came back from two down to beat Tottenham 5-2 at home last Sunday and they travel to the newly-crowned League Cup victors, who conquered Cardiff City on penalties



Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique
 Gerrard, Spearing
Henderson, Suarez, Downing

Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs
Arteta, Song
Walcott, Rosicky, Benayoun
Van Persie

Liverpool's Glen Johnson (hamstring) and Steven Gerrard (hamstring) are doubts, having picked up knocks in training and England’s 3-2 loss to Netherlands respectively. If Johnson is not fit enough to play then Martin Kelly is an obvious replacement and Red boss Kenny Dalglish will be eager for his talismanic captain to feature on Saturday although Charlie Adam could deputise.

Daniel Agger, who injured his rib in Liverpool’s enthralling penalty shoot-out triumph over Cardiff City in the League Cup final, will definitely not play against Arsenal. Dalglish confirmed that the Danish defender will be absent for a few weeks so Jamie Carragher will likely be ushered into the starting line-up. Brazil international Lucas remains the only long-term absentee at Anfield.

Considering the manner in which Arsenal came back from two goals down to beat Tottenham 5-2 last weekend, manager Arsene Wenger is unlikely to tinker too much with the starting line-up. Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (back) were reported to have picked up problems in the north London derby victory, but should have shaken them off over the international break.

The Gunners have a plethora of other injured players: Brazilian full-back Andre Santos (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (ankle), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Per Mertesacker (ankle) and Sebastien Squillaci are all ruled out of the Anfield clash. Andrey Arshavin will play no further part at the Emirates Stadium this season after being loaned out to former club Zenit St Petersburg.

  • Liverpool beat Arsenal in the second Premier League match of the season – a 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium courtesy an Aaron Ramsey own goal and Luis Suarez’s late finish. The north London club were in freefall at that point, however, and have salvaged their season since a woeful start to their campaign.
  • The Gunners have won more games away from home this season (five) than the Reds have won at Anfield (four). With only 20 points won at Anfield, the Reds actually have their joint-worst points total at home at this stage of the season since the Premier League began.
  • 8.6 per cent - that is the percentage of chances the Reds have converted in the league this campaign, the worst in the division.
  • Seven points lie between the two clubs, with Arsenal sat in fourth on 46 and Liverpool in seventh on 39. Kenny Dalglish's men do have a game in hand though, although that is a Merseyside derby match against Everton - far from an easy three points.
  • In the last nine top flight matches between these clubs, six matches have ended in a draw.
  • Should the Gunners avoid defeat against Liverpool on Saturday it will be the first time ever that the club have gone unbeaten at Anfield in five consecutive league clashes.
  • Although Arsenal have a home Champions League tie coming up in midweek it is unlikely that players will be rested for the AC Milan match. Arsene Wenger's side lost 4-0 in the away leg to make qualification for the quarter-finals an unlikely scenario. Sunday's opponents, of course, have experience of overturning a large deficit against the Italian club - the Reds came back from 3-0 down at half-time in the 2005 final of the elite European competition to win on penalties.

Players to watch

S. Downing

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

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A peripheral figure at Anfield since his big-money move from Aston Villa in the summer, Stewart Downing finally let Liverpool fans glimpse his quality in the League Cup final triumph over Cardiff City.

The England international was a constant threat in attack and rightfully won the man of the match award for his performance. Anfield supporters will be praying that he carries over his form into this weekend’s mammoth Premier League match.

T. Walcott

Position: Attacker

Games: 3

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Theo Walcott scored a brace against Spurs last weekend and was crucial in Arsenal’s turnaround against Spurs. More importantly, he reacted brilliantly to the negative reception he was given by his own fans at the Emirates Stadium instead of shying away and letting the crowd’s booing get to him.

Arsene Wenger needs the 22-year-old to put in another blinder at Anfield if the Gunners are to maintain their impressive record at the ground. Robin van Persie will be looked at by many as the key attacking threat in the line-up, but the former Southampton winger has the potential to hurt anyone who underestimates him.

Editor's Prediction

Liverpool might have struggled to score at home at times this season – the blame of which Kenny Dalglish has tried to place on outstanding goalkeeping performances – but Arsenal’s defence have looked shambolic far too often to be considered watertight. Put simply: there will surely be goals.

Reds striker Luis Suarez has had nearly a month of match practice to get sharp, while his team-mate Andy Carroll will hope to repeat the dominant performance he put in against the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium last season when he played for Newcastle United. It’s a controversial option to predict an Arsenal win but the team have proved to be impressive when confidence is high. This is one of those games that could swing either way in an instant, but an international break on the back of Liverpool’s exhausting cup final win could give Arsene Wenger’s men the edge over 90 minutes.

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