Arsenal v Liverpool - Match preview and team news
Wednesday 30 January 2013
Sixth faces seventh at the Emirates Stadium in a clash that could for the loser spell the end of their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via fourth place. Hosts Arsenal currently lie three points ahead of Liverpool and after morale boosting victories over West Ham and Brighton in the FA Cup on Saturday, will be confident of victory against the Merseysiders, who are smarting from their shock cup exit to League 1 outfit Oldham at the weekend.
The Gunners have skipper Thomas Vermaelen again after he missed the trip to Brighton with an ankle injury and he should return to partner Per Mertesacker in central-defence. Elsewhere, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, who were all rested against the Seagulls (although Walcott and Wilshere would come off the bench), should all return to the starting line-up which the in-form Olivier Giroud, with four goals from his last two games, should spearhead.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is sure to make wholesale changes from the inexperienced and lightweight side that were turned over by Oldham. After starting with an expansive 4-2-4 formation that saw Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge flanked by Raheem Sterling and Fabio Borini, the Italian at least is expected to drop out at the expense of the returning Steven Gerrard, while Sterling may also be benched for the more experienced Stewart Downing.
Elsewhere, Pepe Reina, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson could all return to the starting XI after missing previous matches with various injuries.