This coming Sunday should be a super contest between two of English football’s most historic teams. Though the Gunners are top of the league, the Reds are currently flailing in 8th position, thus making the game more of a standard Sunday. With the Easter weekend approaching, both teams will be hunting for three points, with very differing objectives on their respective horizons. What should unfold is an entertaining and open game, with many questions about how the home side will play.
Arsenal has the chance to finally reclaim the Premier League crown, with their last successful campaign dating back to 2004. With nearly 20 years (and various managers) surpassed, they will hopefully be able to sustain the momentum they have built, though only after this weekend result of course. Jürgen Klopp is experiencing the worst period in his glorious management career, even more so than his disappointing final year at Borussia Dortmund. In reality, it is now only a Europa League spot up for grabs, with the last clutch of games (and subsequent dropped points) making an eventual top four finish extremely unlikely. Manchester City are away to Southampton this Saturday tea time, therefore will be looking to turn the screw on the team they are chasing. Sunday will represent the final nine league games in the top two teams fixture list, therefore the results of both could make one of them a firm favourite by the end of Anfield’s match up.
Mikel Arteta has one or two decisions to make this weekend, with the mild list of injuries as follows. Takehiro Tomiyasu, Edward Nketiah, Mohamed Elneny and William Saliba, are all ruled out for this game. The form of the table toppers is perfect, after back to back 4-1 home victories against both Leeds and Crystal Palace. With the game prior to those seeing them bow out of the Europa League, it could be the blessing they require to make this final push. If come May they are holding the league trophy aloft, that two legged 5-3 defeat to Sporting Lisbon will mean very little to the Emirates support. With 72 points taken from 29 games played, they are enjoying a fabulous season.
The starting line-up will see Aaron Ramsdale start in goal, with Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko retained as fullbacks. Kieran Tierney remains the understudy, though could come into the side if fresher legs are required. The midfield will see Thomas Partey flanked by Granit Xhaka and Martin Ødegaard, with Jorginho the alternative for anyone that needs to come out. The forward line will see just one change, with Bukayo Saka likely to replace Leandro Trossard. The other two spots will be filled by Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli, as Emile Smith Rowe continues to bide his time for a starting role.
Liverpool come into this game on the back of two Premier League games, that produced just the single point. The away performances at Manchester City saw a horrid 4-1 loss, followed by a very underwhelming 0-0 result at Stamford Bridge. Jürgen Klopp’s men currently sit 8th in the league, with a mere 43 points taken from their 28 games played. They are now ten points outside of the Champions League places, with qualification for next seasons European showpiece almost impossible.
In terms of Anfield injuries, Calvin Ramsay and Stefan Bajčetić are definitely out, whereas Luis Díaz is still being held back by the medical team. Naby Keïta has sustained yet another injury, however his inclusion would have been unlikely anyway. Thiago Alcantara could very well start this game, with the last two games seeing some very abject midfield displays.
Alisson Becker will resume his duties in goal, with the pair of Virgil and Ibrahima Konaté starting ahead of him. Virgil was out in midweek with illness, though should be ushered back in for this game. Kostas Tsimikas will come out for the returning Andy Robertson, whilst Trent Alexander Arnold may also come back in for Joe Gomez. Fabinho and Harvey Elliott may start this game, with Thiago or Curtis Jones starting alongside them. The captain, Jordan Henderson, will probably come out for this game, after his horrendous run of form and on pitch behaviour in the week. The attack has to see Mohamed Salah recalled, with Mohamed Darwin and Cody Gakpo also in the starting eleven. There has to be positive change in this game, much like the previous 40 games. There are some system changes and personnel adjustments that could be made, with Arthur Melo and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain available. Despite this, the common system and players will probably be retained by the German manager.
This is a game between two English giants, that could well give a strong indication to who wins this year’s Premier League. Arsenal has the form, the players, the desire and confidence. Liverpool have Anfield, therefore for will be hoping a return home will stir something within. A reaction from the home team is likely here, with certain players likely to turn up for this kind of season defining game. An angry Mohamed Salah could be the difference make, however, Thiago being ushered in could be what truly turns the Anfield tide of discontent.
Player to watch – Thiago Alcantara (if fit)
Liverpool 2 – 1 Arsenal