Liverpool welcome league leaders Arsenal to Anfield on Saturday afternoon for what could potentially be the best clash of the weekend.
Brendan Rodgers will hope that his side can continue their good home form this season and also replicate the kind of performances they have achieved against other big clubs this year when they face the Gunners.
For Arsenal, this is the first game in a difficult run which will see them face Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City, and Tottenham and not to mention Bayern Munich in a relatively short period of time. Should they lose, they could fall to third place in the league so a win in this fixture is absolutely vital.
Liverpool are still lacking in defence, although Rodgers confirmed in his press conference that Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger will return soon but not in time for the Arsenal game. Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho will not return until the end of the month at the earliest, and Jose Enrique has yet to be given a date for a return.
Arsenal are missing a lot of players at the most difficult part of the season. The good news for Arsene Wenger however is that Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta should be fit to play at Anfield. Thomas Vermaelen could be fit but will face a late fitness test to make sure. Aaron Ramsey will be missed in the midfield due to injury, as will Theo Walcott up front. Finally, Mathieu Flamini will be unable to play due to suspension.
- In the 11 league games that Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have played together this season, the only team to stop them both scoring is Arsenal.
- Liverpool have only conceded eight goals at home this season.
- Unfortunately for the Reds, they have only managed to win one of their last 13 league games against Arsenal and have won none of the last six at Anfield.
- Santi Cazorla has scored in two of his three appearances against the Reds for Arsenal.
- Arsenal were the last team to stop Liverpool scoring in the league (November 2nd).
- Wojciech Szczesny has the more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the league this season with 11.
The English half of SAS has been in great form for Liverpool this season, scoring 14 goals in 16 appearances and five since his return from injury last month. As two of these appearances were from the bench, it means he is scoring a goal every 90 minutes on average. He has attempted 49 shots of which 27 were on target, giving him an accuracy of 55%. However, he has only managed to convert 29% of his chances and half of his clear-cut chances with eight. Due to his form in front of goal this season, it’s easy to overlook the creative impact that Sturridge has on Liverpool’s play. The striker has created 15 chances from open play and three of these resulted in assists. He has even managed to create five clear-cut chances as well, showing why his partnership with Suarez has been so proficient. Sturridge will face a hard test against an Arsenal defence that have already shut him out however, and will have to work extra hard to take something from them.
Cazorla has been one of Arsenal’s and the Premier League’s best creative players since his move to North London from Spain. He hasn’t disappointed so far this season. The Spaniard has created 33 chances for his team with 25 of these coming from open play. It is surprising then that only three of these have ended in assists for him. All of this means that he has created a chance every 44 minutes on average so far. However, he has only been able to create three clear-cut chances which is two less than Sturridge. Due to the all-out attacking nature of Arsenal’s play, Cazorla has also chipped in with four goals of his own. He has achieved this from 29 shots on goal, 17 of which were on target. The midfielder will be a major threat to Liverpool and not just because of his good record against them previously.
Liverpool have only lost once at home this season and have defeated Everton 4-0 in the last two weeks at Anfield. Since their defeat to Arsenal in which they were unable to score, they have managed to score 41 goals in the months since. However, their record against the league leaders is pitiful and Liverpool’s defence have been struggling as it is. I believe the game will have a few goals but will ultimately end in a 2-2 draw.