Both the Gunners and Liverpool will be buoyed before their upcoming clash after recording great victories before the international break. Liverpool secured the Carling Cup in a very close contest against Cardiff, which was in the end decided on penalties, and Arsenal recorded an inspiring come-from-behind victory against North-London rivals Tottenham where they netted five goals against a hapless Brad Friedel.
Ahead of the tie, both Liverpool and Arsenal have injury concerns that could affect their first-team line-ups. Both Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard are doubtful after picking up hamstring injuries while on international duty and could prove to be bad casualties for Liverpool. While on the other side of the coin key centre-back Vermaelen has an ankle injury and Rosicky has a back injury. Both face late fitness tests before the tie and look 50:50 to start.
The question before this tie is whether Arsenal can harness the momentum they have gained from the Tottenham win and replicate the performance. There was plenty of spirit and purpose about the gunners against their North-London rivals and while this is not a derby, they must bring the same intensity and spirit if they are to win what is likely to be a tough match.
It is imperative Arsenal continue their winning ways in the Premier League, where they won three out of four Premier League games last month. With Chelsea likely to get a victory against West Brom it is important we maintain the pressure on them and keep the fight alive for fourth and even third place.
on the injury situation…
We have a problem with Vermaelen (ankle) that we have to assess on Friday. Van Persie has a little groin problem that we have to assess on Friday as well. As for Song, I have no news at all. Everybody else has come back well. At the moment it is very difficult to say [if Vermaelen and Van Persie will be fit] because we are before training. I can give a better view after the training session on Friday.
on Abou Diaby…
Diaby is available again.
on Tomas Rosicky…
He has a back problem as well but I think he will play. It is 50:50.
It was planned by his manager because he knows we have a tough schedule. We are the only team in the world who plays Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday.
on Aaron Ramsey (ankle)…
It is too early for him, he has no chance for the weekend. He will be out for Milan as well. The earliest he could come back is for Newcastle.
on Johan Djourou (thigh)…
He is not far. He could be OK for Milan maybe.
on Andre Santos (ankle)…
He is doing good, he is not far as well – two weeks away from returning to the group. It is a bit ahead of time and he works with a fantastic attitude. He is unbelievably focused, motivated every day and he is a credit to himself. It is a joy to see how hard he works and sets himself targets. In two weeks we will assess how well he is doing in training.
on Francis Coquelin (hamstring)…
He is four weeks away.
Arsenal – Robin van Persie – The Dutchman has been in fine form in recent weeks, most recently with a spectacular goal and assist against Tottenham. Expect more of the same from Arsenal’s talisman and captain.
Liverpool – Stuart Downing – The Englishman finally sprung to life in Liverpool’s win over Cardiff picking up the man of the match award. No doubt he will try to replicate his great performance.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Walcott Rosicky Gervinho
Van Persie (c)
Arsenal to win:
William Hill are offering odds of 14/5 for the Gunners to win away at Anfield.
Bet365 & Skybet are offering the best odds at 5/2
Liverpool to win:
William Hill & Paddypower are offering odds of 11/10 for Liverpool to win at home
allArsenal’s Special Bet:
allArsenal’s Special Bet: Correct score: Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2 = 11/1
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