11am, live in the US on FSC
Last 4 head-to-head:
1-2 (a; CC) 10.28.09
4-4 (h) 04.21.09
1-1 (a) 12.21.08
4-2 Liverpool (h; CL) 04.08.08
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-2 Fiorentina (h); 0-0 Blackburn (a); 2-0 Everton (a)
Arsenal: 0-1 Olympiakos (a); 2-0 Stoke (h); 0-3 City (a)
Liverpool: Torres 10; Benayoun, Gerrard, Kuyt 4; Ngog 3; Babel, Johnson 2; Skrtel 1
Arsenal: van Persie 7; Fabregas 6; Arshavin 5; Vermaelan 4; Diaby, Gallas 3; Ramsey 2; Bendtner, Denilson, Eboue, Eduardo, Rosicky, Walcott 1
Referee: Howard Webb
Guess at a squad:
Johnson Carragher Agger Aurelio
Kuyt Gerrard Benayoun
With Torres playing nearly half an hour on Wednesday, here’s hoping he’s fit enough to start on Sunday. Lord knows Liverpool needs his goals.
According to Benitez, only Riera, Kelly, and El Zhar are assuredly out. Which means that Aurelio and Ngog should come back into the squad after their absence on Wednesday. Aurelio will be crucial – we’ve seen Benitez say Insua needs a rest, and it was noticeable against Fiorentina. I wouldn’t mind Dossena at either position on the left if need be (he was diligent and put in some decent crosses), especially since Riera’s still out, but if Aurelio and Benayoun are both available, that’s a far stronger flank.
But maybe we’ll see a change on the right as well. I hate to keep harping on Kuyt, but he hasn’t improved over the last month, whether on the flanks or as a striker. I know the chance of him left out is miniscule to say the least, but there’s the possibility of playing Benayoun on the right and Dossena on the left. Or, if you really want a curveball, as I’m incredibly tempted to suggest, there’s this front six:
Gerrard Aquilani Benayoun
As said in Wednesday’s match review, I don’t know if Aquilani’s ready for a midfield start against Arsenal. He hesitated in the tackle and wasn’t much for tracking back against familiar Italian opposition. Granted, first start after a long injury, but I hate to think what sort of gaps Arsenal could exploit if Aqua’s partnering Masch. But, with both Lucas and Mascherano holding and Gerrard out wider on the right (up against whoever’s fit for Arsenal at left back, because neither Gibbs nor Clichy are), Aquilani’s passing further up the field could trouble the Gunners.
We’ve had some well-founded complains about luck with injuries so far this season. But Arsenal’s in as bad of a state as Liverpool’s been, with questions over Eduardo and Diaby, while Bendtner, Clichy, Djourou, Eboue, Gibbs, Rosicky, and van Persie are out. Unless Eduardo vastly improved this week, Vela’s the lone recognized striker; Arshavin (he of the 4 goals at Anfield last season) started up top in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Stoke last week, scoring the opener.
I’m sick of writing about the importance of every single game and every possible turning point. Evidently, so is Benitez, who said, "It is important, but every game will be important until the end of the season." All Liverpool can do is win one game at a time, and push their way up the league. Taking points off the third place side, four points ahead of Liverpool in the table, is the perfect start.