Arsenal will have to put any thoughts of the Champions League to one side on Saturday afternoon when Liverpool once again take to the field at The Grove, this time in a game that Arsenal simply have to win if they are to keep their slim hopes of a victorious Premiership campaign alive.
Liverpool also need to win in order to cement their Champions League place for next season. A victory over local rivals Everton saw them move five points clear of the blue half of Merseyside.
Arsenal dominated the game on Wednesday, and should have won comfortably. Were it not for Mascherano’s powerful midfield performance, things may well have been very different.
I wouldn’t expect the game on Saturday to be much different. Liverpool will come out and play a little more than they did on Wednesday, but that wouldn’t be hard. I’ve seen more expansive football at the Reebok than I saw from Liverpool on Wednesday.
Arsenal are likely to dominate as they did in the Champions League and with Liverpool likely to play more, I’d expect more goals from Arsenal this time round.
Arsene Wenger says Van Persie is a major doubt for Saturday: ‘At the moment it is 80 per cent no and 20 per cent yes. But he has had a scan this afternoon and he is better today than he was last night.
That is positive for a muscle problem. But we’ll know much more about it on Friday morning.
Wenger revealed that Adebayor has an ankle injury: ‘We also have Adebayor who has a little ankle problem. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.
‘I hope he’ll be OK. But the time is so short between the games it is very difficult to make a decision the morning after the game.
‘You don’t know if it is a bruise or a little twist and the first 24 hours doesn’t tell you a lot about that.’
Arsenal Team News:
As Wenger just told us, Van Persie is unlikely to play after being forced off at half time in the last game against the Scousers.
Rosicky and Sagna will both miss out, but Wenger is hopeful that he’ll have Bacary back for Arsenal’s trip to Old Trafford.
Walcott is almost certain to start. With Eboue out it could be on the wing, but with Van Persie out, and Adebayor facing a fitness test, he could partner Bendtner up front.
Player to watch: Cesc Fabregas
The Spainiard was far from his best on Wednesday. He played far too deep for far too long. He’ll be keen to make up for that on Saturday. He’ll keep Gerrard and Mascherano busy.
Liverpool Team News:
Liverpool will have only Kewel and Agger missing, as they did for the last game.
Player to watch: Xabi Alonso
I did have Mascherano, but the FA have today hit him with a further two match ban following his red card at United two weeks ago.
Instead I’ll go with the man that will be charged with taking on his role on Saturday – Alonso. He definantly doesn’t have the bite of Mascherano, but he’s still a fantastic player.
I’m going to plump for a 2-1 home win. We deserved to win the Champions League game, and I think the lads will be looking to settle the score. At least they better be after I managed to get a ticket to the game! With a bit of luck I haven’t just condemed us to defeat.
The teams meet again on Tuesday for the third consecutive game.
If Liverpool get the better of Arsenal on Saturday, then it will become an even bigger game for Arsenal than it is at the moment.