Arsenal v Liverpool Match Preview
30th January, 2013
Arsenal welcome top 4 rivals Liverpool to North London knowing that their visitors sit just 3 points behind them in the table.
Liverpool are reeling from this weekend's cup exit at the hands of League One Oldham Athletic and to draw level on points with Arsenal would be just the tonic to remove the stains of that disappointment.
Arsene Wenger is wary that Liverpool's elimination from the Cup this weekend might spark a positive response in their players.
'"It is always a big disappointment to go out of the FA Cup," he said. "You never speculate because you never know exactly what kind of response you get. It depends on the team.
"What is important is for us to be at our best and cope with what Liverpool will offer us.
"Of course it`s a shock when you go out but we just look at ourselves to play well together and don`t look too much at how Liverpool will respond to that."
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is calling for a response against Arsenal, 'However, disappointing the cup was, we'll get a reaction on Wednesday. Just seeing the players, the small group we had working (on Monday morning), they had a real focus and concentration.
'They've got some wonderfully talented players, and Cazorla's come in and done terrifically well in his first season.
'The game at Anfield was probably as poor as we've been. There were a number of reasons behind that. Psychologically we weren't in a good moment, and rightly so we lost the game.
'But this is a chance to put it right. We'll need to make sure everyone's fighting, everyone's together, and I'm sure we will be. We need to do better against the teams that are in the top half, there's no denying that.'
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal have Thomas Vermaelen back from an ankle injury, however Francis Coquelin (hamstring) and Mikel Arteta (calf) are still a week away from full fitness.
Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) is fit again, but needs a reserve game before being considered for the squad again. Gervinho is on African Nations duty.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone; Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, A.Santos; Diaby, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky, S.Cazorla, Chamberlain, Arshavin, Podolski, Walcott, Giroud.
Player to watch: Olivier Giroud
With doubles against Newcastle, West Ham and Brighton in the last month, the Frenchman really looks to be finding his feet in the Arsenal team now.
His finishes on Saturday suggested a man with confidence. But Liveprool are unlikely to grant him many chances. If one comes along, he'll have to take it.
Liverpool Team News:
Liverpool welcome back Pepe Reina (thigh), Jose Enrique (hamstring) and Glen Johnson (hamstring) for the trip to Arsenal.
Liverpool (from): Reina, Jones; Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Coates, Wisdom, Enrique, Allen, Lucas, Shelvey, Assaidi, Henderson, Downing, Suso, Sterling, Gerrard, Suarez, Borini, Sturridge.
Player to watch: Luis Suarez
The Premier League's pantomime villain. Laurent Koscielny described him as a defender's nightmare. Petulant, sneaky, histrionic, calculated. But ultimately, brilliant.
Suarez can wriggle into space that doesn't seem to exist and his finishing this season has been faultless. If he gets even half a chance, he'll probably take it.
Match Facts & Stats
Arsenal have lost only one of their last 11 Premier League meetings with Liverpool, but six of these games have also ended in a draw (W4 D6 L1).
No side has won more Premier League away games at Arsenal than Liverpool (6, alongside Manchester United).
Liverpool and Arsenal are the two highest grossing sides in terms of possession this season, averaging 59% per game.
Luis Suárez has created more goalscoring chances from open play than any other player in the top five European leagues this season (61).
Santi Cazorla has made 15 through balls in the Premier League this season, no other player has made more than eight.
The referee will be Kevin Friend.
Once again, I'm predicting that the Gunners will just about squeeze out the three points here. I fancy Suarez to give Liverpool the lead, but for Giroud and Wilshere to nick the 2-1 win for Arsenal.
Arsenal are at home to Stoke City on Saturday. Liverpool are away at Manchester City on Sunday.