“Every game now is critical,” Brendan Rodgers told journalists at his press conference this week, and the games don’t come much bigger than facing league leaders Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday.
Three points could give either team a major boost. It would move Liverpool closer to the top three, and away from fifth placed Everton. Arsenal, meanwhile could extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points.
Rodgers made no changes to his starting XI for Liverpool’s visit to the Hawthorns last week, where Kolo Toure’s second half blunder gifted an equaliser to West Brom.
That was from his sides’ last run out at Anfield, another massive game in which Liverpool convincingly and swiftly disposed of Everton 4-0 last month.
With Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique all out injured, Liverpool’s defence almost picks itself with Jon Flanagan, Martin Skrtel, Toure and Aly Cissokho likely to keep their starting places in front of Simon Mignolet in goal.
Rodgers was boosted this week by the news that he should have Johnson and Agger available soon, while Sakho and Enrique continue their recoveries from hamstring and knee problems respectively.
Joe Allen was a second-half substitute against West Brom last Sunday, and should start against Arsenal this weekend as the Reds look to win what could be an exciting midfield battle.
The Gunners welcome back Jack Wilshere, whilst the form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in central midfield could cause Liverpool’s midfield all sorts of problems.
Steven Gerrard looked composed in control in his flourishing holding midfield role against West Brom, which allows Jordan Henderson the freedom of a more attacking role. Lucas Leiva is injured.
Needing that extra man in midfield against Arsenal’s might mean one less attacker for Liverpool—Philippe Coutinho could be the player to make way with Raheem Sterling supporting Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez from the right-wing.
The Brazilian may feel slightly aggrieved though after a much-improved performance against Everton, playing ‘in the hole’ between midfield and attack.
Arsenal’s defence has been their strong point this season and go into this clash off the back six clean sheets from their last eight games in all competitions.
Liverpool will look to start brightly and continue the exceptional home form that has seen them drop points only twice this season.
Strong battles will ensue on the pitch, whilst Rodgers and Arsene Wenger look to win the game from the sidelines. This game is massive.
What would your Liverpool starting line-up be against Arsenal? Let us know in the comments below, on Twitter @thisisanfield, or in our forums.
Liverpool vs Arsenal gets underway at 12:45pm on Saturday, 8th February 2014. It’s live on BT Sport 1 in the UK.