Liverpool vs Arsenal possible starting line ups
Following the international break for World Cup 2022 qualifiers, the Premier League is back and what a game we have in store at the famous Anfield stadium.
The Premier League is back! (Don't we just love saying that after an international break?) And although we may only be 11 games into a 38 match season, there is so much tension already building across the English top flight. In what we believe to be the standout fixture of Matchday 12, Arsenal travel to Anfield for the evening game on Saturday 20 November. Let’s assess the teams as it stands…
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Liverpool vs Arsenal: a tasty Premier League clash
Liverpool: more injuries to overcome
First up, the home side. Jürgen Klopp’s men came into this season with a quiet confidence. Injury problems in defence had been put behind them and the frontline were banging in goals for fun, Mohamed Salah ripping up more pages in the scoring record books while the likes of Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino were also getting more involved. Coming into their most recent game against West Ham, The Reds were 25 games unbeaten, stretching back into last season, and were the only side yet to taste defeat this campaign. Those dropped points leave the club four off leaders Chelsea and Klopp will not want that gap to grow any larger.
With many of his players having been away on duty for their national team, fresh injuries were always a concern. What has been a major worry for many is the number of midfielders picking up knocks - some very serious like in the case of surprise star Harvey Elliot - and there were still a number of doubts ahead of this huge home clash.
James Milner and Naby Keita will not be ready after their hamstring problems, Curtis Jones is still out after his 'freak' training ground eye injury, and now captain Jordan Henderson is at risk of missing out after taking a knock while away with England. Andy Robertson was part of an impressive-looking Scotland side but is a doubt while Mané was also in the wars and needed a scan but he's now looking good to go. Brazilian pair Fabinho and Firmino add to the squad decisions.
“So, Hendo and Robbo not trained with the team yet - recovery/rehab stuff. Pretty close, a late decision,” Klopp said at the pre-match press conference.
"Sadio is good. Fab came back late and did a recovery session. I hope he can train today, that's the plan. Curtis we take it day by day. Harvey is doing really well but there is some time between now and when he can start again. Joe Gomez is doing well, Bobby doing well, needs time."
Liverpool possible XI: Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Konate, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Thiago, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Jota, Mané
If Mané is held back from the start, Divock Origi may be given another run-out, especially after his excellently taken goal against the Hammers. Takumi Minamino is another option.
Arsenal: Gunners target top four
Mikel Arteta’s outfit on the other hand had increased question marks surrounding their potential for this season. With the likes of West Ham, Everton and even Brighton making strong starts to the season, the Gunners were being regularly mocked for their chances of finishing top six less likely than being relegated. That said, I remember watching their first 15 minutes against strong title contenders Chelsea early in the campaign and seeing positive signs of real creativity, cohesion and desire - aspects that had been missing for some time. True it was only a glimpse, but performances in recent weeks have suggested that the Spaniard may be seeing the rewards of his coaching efforts.
A 2-0 loss to newly promoted Brentford wasn’t the greatest start to the campaign, and that was followed by the same scoreline against Chelsea and then a 5-0 hammering at Man City. Since then though, the recovery has seen them rise quickly up the table. Single goal wins against Norwich and Burnley warmed them up nicely for a massive 3-1 victory in the north London derby. Draws against Brighton and Palace were decent, all things considered, and nine points from their last three games - Villa, Leicester and Watford - have them sitting just two points behind Saturday’s opponents. A win at Anfield would see them leapfrog their hosts into fourth position.
Team captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as Thomas Partey are doubts after returning early from service with Gabon and Ghana respectively, but the manager wasn't giving away too much.
“We had to assess him and see how he is and make decisions," Arteta advised in his press conference. "We have a lot of players who have been through different games, issues, little injuries. So today we have to test everybody and see how we are today and tomorrow.
“Let’s see how everybody is. We have to see them today before assessing and making a judgement on how everybody is.”
“He [Partey] couldn’t play for the national team. He really tried to do that because obviously they had a massive game and he really pushed for that one, but it wasn’t enough to do that."
“Again, that’s something we have to assess today because until today he hasn’t done enough.”
Arsenal possible XI: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Maitland-Niles, Sambi, Smith Rowe, Saka, Aubameyang, Lacazette
That said, I can’t get enough of seeing Martin Odegaard on the pitch. He’s such an elegant player and I’d expect Arteta to use him more as the season progresses.
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