Liverpool v Arsenal - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

To be played on Saturday 8th February 2014 at 12:45. Venue: Anfield, Liverpool.

Odds: Liverpool 15/13, Draw 13/5, Arsenal 5/2

Last season: 0-2

Preview & injury news

The first meeting of two between these sides in a week takes place at Anfield with Arsenal top of the table and Liverpool in the driving seat for fourth place. With Arsenal two points clear of Manchester City and Chelsea a win at Anfield, where Liverpool have only dropped five points all season, will send out a big message in the title race as Arsenal embark on a massive month in their season. Liverpool currently trail Arsenal by eight points themselves so if they were to lose, then any faint hopes they have of a first top flight title in 24 years may be over, a win however could still leave the top three taking a little look over their shoulders at Liverpool.

Liverpool haven't lost since the turn of the year but will want to be more consistent in terms of winning games having won three and drawn two in 2014, which leaves them two points ahead of Everton in fourth place. Arsenal haven't lost in their last eight outings - winning six of those games. During that time they have shown a great degree of character and done something they perhaps have been criticised for not doing in the past - winning ugly.

On the injury front, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has said that defenders Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Agger are nearing fitness but it's more likely to be for the FA Cup meeting between the two sides next week rather than this weekend's clash - which means the Reds are likely to line up with the same back line as in their 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion. Glen Johnson is still sidelined, whilst Lucas Leiva and Jose Enrique are still recovering from long-term injuries. Lucas is expected back next month whilst Enrique suffered a setback in a recovery from knee surgery.

For Arsenal, they could welcome Jack Wilshere back into the side after missing the last couple of games with an ankle injury, whilst Mikel Arteta should be fine to play despite limping towards the end of the win against Crystal Palace last weekend. New signing Kim Kallstrom is sidelined with a back injury whilst Aaron Ramsey - who has been in impressive form this season - is not due back until next month as he recovers from a thigh problem. There are still doubts over Thomas Vermanlen's fitness, and whether he will be part of the squad that travels to Anfield as he has struggled with a calf problem recently.

Key stats

Here are the two sides top scorers in the Premier League so far this season:

Luis Suarez Liverpool FW 23 19 1,708
Daniel Sturridge Liverpool FW 14 16 1,261
Steven Gerrard Liverpool MF 6 20 1,677
Olivier Giroud Arsenal FW 10 22 1,914
Aaron Ramsey Arsenal MF 8 18 1,495
Theo Walcott Arsenal MF 5 13 858

Here are their average possession statistics so far this season:

NamePossession PercentageGames
Liverpool 53.83 24
NamePossession PercentageGames
Arsenal 56.50 24

And the amount of clean sheets the two sides have kept this season:

NameClean SheetGames
Liverpool 7 24
NameClean SheetGames
Arsenal 11 24

5 players to watch

Kolo Toure - The Ivory Coast defender faces up against one of his old clubs this weekend and he will be keen to put last weeks calamitous error against West Brom behind him. Liverpool's back four is still missing key players but in a crucial encounter like this one, Toure's experience and leadership at the back is going to be essential if they are going to limit Arsenal's opportunities in front of goal.

Jack Wilshere - A welcome return from injury no doubt for Arsenal fans as their midfield will look to trouble Liverpool again like in the reverse fixture. Wilshere is a tricky customer to knock off the ball, can pick out a good pass and will provide a goal threat. Liverpool's defence hasn't been the meanest recently, so he may well shine.

Steven Gerrard - Gerrard has been playing the deeper midfield role for a few weeks now, and he does seem to be getting better at, even if he did struggle in the second half against West Brom - then again the whole team did. It will be fascinating to see if he can cope with an energetic Arsenal side in that role, but he'll want the rest of his teammates to remain compact around them.

Laurent Koscielny - One half of this seemingly very solid Arsenal defence that simply hates to concede. He, and his defensive partner, Per Mertesacker are going to have a big challenge facing them in the form of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. They will look to give away as little as possible in order to give the Gunners the solid foundation to try and start of their difficult run of fixtures in the best possible way.

Luis Suarez - Suarez has only been missing from the scoresheet once when he has appeared in a league game at Anfield this season - and he will want it to remain that way this weekend as he looks to show why Arsenal wanted to buy the Uruguayan in the summer. 

Earlier on in the season

Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool, November 2013

It was an early season top of the table clash which resulted in Arsenal going five points clear at the top of the table as they ran out as deserved winners against Liverpool. Santi Cazorla put the Gunners ahead as the game approached the midway point of the first half after he followed up his header which struck the woodwork with a right footed strike to beat Simon Mignolet. Mikel Arteta had an impressive game in the middle of the park, and Arsenal's lead was doubled shortly before the hour mark when Aaron Ramsey's strike beat Mignolet from 25 yards. In the end, it was a comfortable win for the hosts.

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