An injury ravaged Liverpool side host Arsenal in the Premier League on Wednesday night. The Reds have struggled in the league lately, and will hope to get their campaign on track and in the process, derail Arsenal’s title challenge.
After four consecutive wins in the month of December, Arsenal strangely got thrashed 4-0 by an out-of-form Southampton side. However, they have recuperated since and registered three wins on the trot.
Liverpool have had an absolute nightmare week with the injury list reading as many as thirteen names. However, Liverpool fans were welcomed by Jurgen Klopp claiming the situation is better than what it was before the FA Cup game. The central defence for the Reds will be the biggest conundrum in recent times as long term absentees Martin Skrtel and Joe Gomez were joined by Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho recently. With Kolo Toure’s problems at the end of the League Cup win over Stoke were more cramp than anything else, at least the fans will be glad there will be one proper central defender at the back. Klopp said that Sakho would be available for this game, but he could find himself on the bench. Kolo Toure could be partnered by Lucas, who did well against Stoke, or Ilori, who was decent against Exeter.
Captain Jordan Henderson’s heel problem has been bit of a worry recently but things look good for Liverpool fans as the midfielder is set to return for the game.
Coutinho’s hamstring injury will keep him out till mid-February. The Brazilian has been underwhelming in recent games but somehow always manages to perform against big teams so this will be the biggest blow for Klopp. Jordon Ibe also suffered from a hamstring issue in training, but it wasn’t serious and he will be fit to face the Gunners.
Daniel Sturridge might be back for the Reds after Klopp decided to give him a mini pre-season. However, it’s likely that he’s used as a substitute. This means that Firmino could start up-top with Christian Benteke Liverpool’s only available striker who has looked pretty dire in recent weeks.
Arsenal have no new injuries to worry about and Wenger already expressed his delight at that. The Gunners have talisman Sanchez returning, which could really propel them towards the title. However, he is expected to come back to the thick of things this weekend against Stoke. Wilshere and Welbeck may not be back for a while now, but are doing well in rehabilitation.
Many thought new signing Mohamed Elneny would be able to play a role in the fixture but the Basel midfielder’s transfer has become somewhat complicated and it might take him a while to come to London.
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
With Coutinho out of contention, the onus is on Roberto Firmino to create something against the title challengers and bring Liverpool the three points. Firmino hasn’t been able to get going properly for his new side, but managed to perform in Klopp’s biggest wins in the league, against Chelsea and Manchester City. In Liverpool’s depleted squad, Firmino remains a key man and would be instrumental if the Reds are to pick up a favorable result.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
The German has answered all his critics in style and has arguably been the best player in the Premier League this season. With 3 goals and 16 assists in the league, there is no doubt as to who would be Arsenal’s key man on the day. In the continued absence of Alexis Sanchez, Ozil would be the key threat for Liverpool, who could only hope he has an off-day.
Liverpool 1 Arsenal 3
With a depleted squad and a porous defence, it would be difficult to expect Liverpool to prevent an in-form Arsenal side from scoring, and doing so more than once. Expect Mesut Ozil and co. to leave a comprehensive mark at Anfield.