Arsene Wenger and the one that got away. Despite all of the success garnered by both Arsenal and Liverpool so far this season, the Gunners missing out on Luis Suarez is still hogging the headlines before this match. The Uruguayan has been in great form, yes, but so has the north London outfit. Arsenal has been playing their best and most consistent football in the past few years, and has a chance to pad their two point cushion at the top of the Premier League table.
Liverpool have other ideas with Martin Skrtel stating,
“However, I am confident we can beat Arsenal because we definitely have the strength to do so… It won’t be an easy game but I am sure we can do something in front of our fans.”
The sentiment is nice, but history disagrees. At Anfield, Liverpool has not beaten Arsenal in the last six games, the last three of which were losses; a worrying statistic for a team in search of Champions League football. Unfortunately for Liverpool, they also boast a few key injuries coming into this game. The defense will be without Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique and Mamadou Sakho, while midfielder Lucas Leiva is still battling fitness.
Arsenal, on their end, will only be lacking Matthieu Flamini, who is still serving a four-match ban. Jack Wilshere is nearing full recovery from his ankle injury and will likely be a game time decision.
Chelsea did the Gunners a favor when they handled Manchester City last Monday, giving their rivals another week to remain above the rest — if only slightly. Now, Arsenal must handle their own destiny, as both the Blues and the Citizens will look to take all three points away from their upcoming games against Newcastle and Norwich City, respectively.
This will come down to offense against defense. Suarez and Daniel Sturridge against Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Whoever can control this area of the pitch will find success at the final whistle.
31 – Since Daniel Sturridge made his debut for Liverpool, the top two Premier League scorers are Suarez (31) and Sturridge (24). Power.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 6, 2014
128 – Since August 2008, only two PL teams have hit the woodwork more than 100 times (Liverpool 128, Arsenal 103). Clonk.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 5, 2014