Liverpool return to action after a lengthy break on Saturday night, with only victory at Arsenal realistically enough to keep their top-four dreams alive.
Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Saturday, April 3, 2021 – 8pm (BST)
Premier League (30)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
It seems like an eternity since Diogo Jota inspired the Reds to victory away to Wolves, with almost three weeks drifting by since that win.
The hope is that this breather will end up aiding Liverpool after a taxing season, allowing key men to refresh both physically and mentally.
While a number of Reds stars have been away on international duty, a strong core remained at Kirkby, allowing Jurgen Klopp to perfect his plans.
On Saturday, the Premier League champions face a tough trip to an Arsenal side who have flattered to deceive throughout 2020/21.
While there does appear to be progress being made under Mikel Arteta, they are still ninth in the table, highlighting their struggles.
Games at the Emirates are never easy, however, and if Liverpool are out of rhythm upon their return, they could once again come unstuck.
The wins over RB Leipzig and Wolves suggest the Reds are starting to find their groove, though, and three more points in north London would feel significant, especially with a Champions League clash with Real Madrid looming.
Frankly, only victory will do.
Liverpool’s injury woes have started to ease as winter has turned into spring, but Klopp is still without a number of key absentees.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have all likely played their final game of the season, while Jordan Henderson remains sidelined with a groin issue and Caoimhin Kelleher and Divock Origi are also out.
The skipper’s return is still at least a number of weeks away, meaning he is expected to miss both quarter-final games against Madrid.
Other than that, Klopp has a clean bill of health.
Alisson will continue in goal, while Trent Alexander-Arnold, Nat Phillips, Ozan Kabak and Andy Robertson should complete the back line.
Phillips and Kabak have started to build a centre-back partnership, and injuries permitting, they will be regulars between now and May.
That means Fabinho can continue in the No. 6 role he is arguably the best in Europe in, with Thiago and Gini Wijnaldum accompanying him in the middle of the park.
Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all midfield options, however, should Klopp have one eye on Tuesday’s trip to Spain.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Jota could make up Liverpool’s attack, although a returning Roberto Firmino will be raring to go.
Arteta has injury concerns over impressive young duo Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, but neither have been ruled out yet.
Possible Arsenal XI: Leno; Cedric, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard; Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Last 5 Away to Arsenal (All Competitions)
Lost 2-1 – July 2020 (Lacazette, Nelson; Mane)
Drew 1-1 – November 2018 (Lacazette; Milner)
Drew 3-3 – December 2017 (Sanchez, Xhaka, Ozil; Coutinho, Salah, Firmino)
Won 4-3 – August 2016 (Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers; Coutinho x2, Lallana, Mane)
Drew 0-0 – August 2015
Did You Know?
Firmino’s poor form has been well-documented this season, with the Brazilian arguably a long way short of his best for a year now.
Liverpool’s No. 9 has an excellent record against Arsenal, however, which should give him some confidence going into Saturday’s match.
Firmino has scored eight times in 11 league meetings with the Gunners, including a hat-trick at Anfield back in December 2018.
He has also chipped in with three assists for good measure, losing just once – that being last season’s 2-1 defeat at the Emirates, when the title had already been won.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 1-0 vs. Wolves
Won 2-0 vs. Leipzig
Lost 1-0 vs. Fulham
Lost 1-0 vs. Chelsea
Won 2-0 vs. Sheffield United
Arsenal – Last five results (all competitions)
Drew 3-3 vs. West Ham
Lost 1-0 vs. Olympiakos
Won 2-1 vs. Tottenham
Won 3-1 vs. Olympiakos
Drew 1-1 vs. Burnley
Speaking to the media on Friday, Klopp was bullish about the final two months of the season:
“If you would ask me what I would wish for this last period, I would say let’s just go with all we have for everything that is out there and then let’s have a look at what we got for it.
“That’s how I see it. Obviously I didn’t have a game for nearly three weeks, but my players – most of my players – had three games. So we have one session together and that’s today.
“But anyway, that’s the way we want to see it, what we can do with it.
“We obviously don’t have a lot of points to waste anymore, but we have a tough programme on top of that, not only in the Premier League but in the Champions League as well.
“We will not hesitate, we will just go for it and hopefully we can do that on Saturday already.”
TV & Liveblog Info
Arsenal vs. Liverpool kicks off at 8pm (BST) and will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event, with coverage getting underway at 7.45pm.
Henry Jackson is in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog, keeping you entertained and up-to-date with the action from 7.15pm.