Firmino’s parting gift? – 10 key things to know ahead of Arsenal vs. Liverpool

League leaders Arsenal are the visitors this weekend as Liverpool return to Anfield for the first time in over a month looking to make a statement.

Liverpool vs. Arsenal

Premier League (29) | Anfield
April 9, 2023 | 4.30pm (BST)

A humiliating 4-1 defeat at the Etihad last weekend was followed up by an underwhelming 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.

Liverpool will be looking to use the power of a home crowd in their Anfield return to inspire an improved display and get the current campaign back on track.

The Reds will welcome the strongest Arsenal side in many years in a game where only three points will suffice if any hopes of a top four push are to be maintained.

Here are 10 things you need to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Arsenal.


1. A Thiago return?

After a seemingly endless hip flexor problem and little indications of timelines, Thiago could be involved this weekend for the first time since February.

Jurgen Klopp told the media in his pre-Arsenal press conference that the midfielder “might” be available having now trained “three or four times” with the full squad.

“Luis [Diaz] and Thiago [are] training completely normal,” the manager revealed.

Thiago looks slightly different [than Diaz], was not out that long, trained now three, four times with the team and might be available. But we have to check how he feels today.”


2. “It’s Anfield”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 21, 2023: Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop before the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunday is Liverpool’s first game at Anfield in over a month, the last occasion being the 7-0 thrashing of Man United at the beginning of March.

The boss spoke of the importance of using the atmosphere to the team’s advantage in an attempt to turn recent fortunes around, admitting there is “no secret” in the role the crowd can play.

The German explained: “In a home game, a massive boost can be the crowd obviously, celebrating challenges, celebrating sliding tackles, the ball goes out – that’s where it all starts.

“It’s the first little victory, that’s what you have to build on.”


3. More changes

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 1, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) is replaced by substitute Darwin Núñez during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp revealed that the congested fixture schedule “opens the door for everybody” and suggested that more lineup alterations can be expected this weekend.

The boss made six changes at Stamford Bridge from the side that lost 4-1 to Man City, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah both benched and Virgil van Dijk left out completely due to illness.

“I said before the game and I say it now, this is a different week because we play three times,” said Klopp in his pre-match press conference.

“But from now on, if we don’t play three times a week, then we have more time to train.”


4. Historically a tough trip for the visitors

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 29, 2018: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores the fifth goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arsenal go into Sunday as favourites as they chase down their first league title since the ‘invincible’ season of 2003/04, but Anfield is far from a happy hunting ground for the Gunners.

Liverpool have won their last six home meetings with Arsenal in the Premier League, scoring 22 times and conceding only four.

Arsenal‘s last victorious league trip to Anfield came in September 2012, when goals from Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla sealed a 2-0 win.


5. Expect goals

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 9, 2022: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez celebrates after scoring hi side's first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Unlike the recent meetings with Chelsea, in which 465 minutes have now passed without a goal, this fixture tends to deliver goals.

The two sides have scored 180 times in their Premier League meetings, more than any other fixture in the competition.

Only one of the last 45 league games between the sides has finished goalless – a 0-0 draw at the Emirates back in 2015.


6. Jota to finally break his duck?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 16, 2022: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the first goal\ during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Diogo Jota hasn’t scored for Liverpool since a 2-2 draw at the Etihad last April, but Sunday’s opponents are a side he has typically had plenty of joy against.

The Portuguese forward has netted seven times against Arsenal for the Reds, more than any other side, averaging a goal every 73 minutes.

It could be the perfect opportunity for him to grab his first of the campaign having missed the majority through injury, with both hamstring and calf problems keeping him out of action.


7. Top four hopes on the brink

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 1, 2023: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson looks dejected after the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. Man City won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No league wins in three has seen Champions League qualification slip further from Liverpool’s grasp, meaning that nothing short of a win will be sufficient on Sunday.

The Reds find themselves 10 points behind fourth-placed Man United, and further dropped points against Arsenal could signal the end of any realistic hopes of clawing things back.

It will be a big ask given the quality of the opposition, but Liverpool must find a way to operate at their best and pick up a result in order to keep the season alive.


8. A Firmino swansong?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 5, 2023: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the seventh goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Along with Jota, Roberto Firmino has also scored more Liverpool goals against Arsenal than any other side.

The Brazilian has 10 goals in 17 appearances against the Gunners, including a memorable hat-trick in the 5-1 league thumping in December 2018.

Firmino is set to leave Anfield on a free transfer this summer and will be relishing his final opportunity to get on the scoresheet in this fixture should he feature.

Only Robbie Fowler (12) has more Liverpool goals against Arsenal in all competitions than Firmino.


9. Tierney in charge

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 1, 2021: Referee Paul Tierney during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 239th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. Liverpool won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Paul Tierney will officiate Sunday’s clash – a referee who has some history with Liverpool’s manager.

Klopp remonstrated with Tierney following his decision not to send off Harry Kane during a 2-2 draw with Tottenham in December 2021.

The manager said to Tierney at full-time: “I have no problems with any referees. Only you.”


10. Join us for coverage!

Liverpool vs. Arsenal will be shown live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event, with kickoff taking place at 4.30pm (BST).

If you’re looking for a biased take on proceedings, look no further than This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog, which will be available from 3.45pm.

A win please, Reds!