After two games in cup competition, Jurgen Klopp’s depleted Reds look to bounce back to winning ways in the league against Arsene Wenger’s title challengers.
Liverpool’s fourth fixture in just 12 days, Klopp goes in search of adding to the positive big-game results already picked up against Chelsea and Man City, but he faces a tough job in replicating those successes with the on-going injury crisis leaving him without some key players.
A whole five days without a match between the Exeter cup draw and Arsenal’s arrival has allowed for some much needed recovery time for Klopp’s squad, but regardless of who does make it for selection, an extremely tough game awaits for Liverpool against the league leaders.
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Arsenal at Anfield
The two clubs meet for the 102nd time on Merseyside, where Liverpool have traditionally had the upper hand over the Gunners.
The Reds have won 54 of the Anfield meetings, losing only 27, but the recent overall record is far less impressive with Liverpool winning just one of the last nine clashes – the unforgettable 5-1 thrashing.
Since that memorable day, the Reds have lost and drawn twice to the Londoners, battling to a goalless stalemate in the last fixture at the Emirates Stadium in August, on a night of nearly moments as Philippe Coutinho twice hit the woodwork and Christian Benteke missed a sitter.
Last season’s corresponding fixture saw an eventful 2-2 stalemate played out at Anfield, a game the Reds ended with 10 men after Fabio Borini was sent off.
Philippe Coutinho fired Liverpool ahead, only for Mathieu Debuchy to head Arsenal level a minute later and Olivier Giroud to put the visitors in front in the second half, before Martin Skrtel’s booming header seven minutes into stoppage time rescued a deserved point.
Wenger’s men sit two points clear at the top of the table as they look to take advantage of their best opportunity in years of winning the title.
The Gunners arrive in strong form collecting five wins in their last six matches, and having bounced back from a heavy 4-0 Boxing Day defeat to Southampton with successive league victories.
Three of the four league losses Wenger’s side have suffered have come on the road however, something that will provide optimism for the Reds ahead of the game.
Liverpool’s indifferent form after a positive start under Klopp continues, with 2016 being opened with a loss, a win and a draw across three competitions.
Klopp’s side look to respond positively to defeat against West Ham in their last league outing at the first attempt with a successive Anfield victory on Wednesday night.
Form Guide (Last 10 league games)
A first league win of 2016 for Klopp’s Reds is priced at 2/1, with an Arsenal victory available at 6/4 and a draw valued at 12/5.
Though his squad hasn’t been decimated to the extent of Klopp’s, Wenger is missing some key men for the clash.
The Gunners’ boss could have ‘keeper David Ospina back at his disposal, but he will be without Alexis Sanchez who continues to struggle with an on-going hamstring injury, and creative force Santi Cazorla due to a knee problem.
Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are all still missing, restricting the options at Wenger’s disposal.
Those that featured in the win over the Mackems’ such as Gabriel, Kieran Gibbs, Calum Chambers and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will hope to keep their places, but the Arsenal boss could name the same XI that beat Newcastle in the last league outing.
The Reds will have to ensure their pressing game is on form to disrupt the Gunners’ free-flowing passing and the threat of Ozil, while dominating central midfield and taking advantage of space in front of their back four could be key to a successful night for Klopp’s side.
What the Managers say
Klopp spoke centre-back injuries, Arsenal and of his respect for Wenger in his press conference:
“One thing is always the same with Arsenal – they are a good football playing team.
“My respect for him [Arsene Wenger] goes up day by day. It’s really intensive to work in the Premier League, he’s done a brilliant job.
“Kolo [Toure] will be available, Mama [Sakho] wants to be available. Skrtel is still a few weeks away, Lovren is close but we have to wait.”
Prior to the Anfield visit, Wenger said:
“Every time we go to Anfield we face a team who is up for it. It’s always a ferocious battle, no matter who the manager is.
“They had a very strong manager before, they have a very strong one now and Klopp has the personality to do well there.”
The game will be shown live on BT Sport 1 for UK viewers, with the match also available to watch on the usual continental stations – Canal+, SuperSport, NBCSN, and Fox Sports – in all corners of the globe.