Arsenal face Liverpool in the first of their two cup games on Saturday as both teams look to avoid exiting the FA Cup at the first hurdle.
Both teams will be confident of progressing to the fourth round. Liverpool are on a 20 match unbeaten run at home in all competitions and Arsenal welcome back some of their injured players and captain Thierry Henry will also be fit to play.
This will be the first of two meetings between the clubs at Anfield in four days as the two teams play each other in both domestic cups. They are likely to field two very different sides in the cups as both teams look to recover from a demanding festive schedule.
Le Boss on players returning from injury: ‘We have a lot of players available now but some are short of competition so I will not necessarily call them up.
For example William Gallas was training for the first time today and Abou Diaby yesterday so they are still short.
‘Lauren will not play either and Cesc Fabregas is suspended but Eboue is back and the only real injuries we have are Emmanuel Adebayor (thigh) and Freddie Ljungberg (hamstring).’
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez on the threat Henry poses and his potential transfer to Liverpool: ‘We know Henry is back and we know they are a better side when he plays. We have to be aware of him because he can cause problems.
‘It’s clear that he is a very good player and he has a big impact on his team. We need to be careful.
‘I even heard rumours this week that Henry was supposedly coming to Liverpool. All I can say is that he is coming tomorrow but will be going back to London after the game. He might come here on Tuesday as well!’
Benitez added: ‘Arsenal have a good side and they will be dangerous opponents. They usually score goals and they are back playing at their level now.
‘It’s going to be a good game because both sides will want to win. The last thing we want is a draw and I’m sure they are thinking the same thing.’
Liverpool Team News:
Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy is likely to return to the starting lineup after recovering from his injury.
Long-term suffers Sissoko, Zenden and Harry Kewell are all still missing.
Player to watch: Steven Gerrard
The Liverpool midfielder has started to find some form after a slow start to the season. A srunning volley in the 3-0 victory over Bolton.
I’m sure he’ll be avoiding passing the ball back to Reina due to the fact that Henry is likely to start.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal have been given a massive injury boost over the last couple of days. Yesterday saw the news that Abu Diaby has returned to full training. Today brought more good news on the injury front as Wenger revealed that Gallas, Djourou, Baptista, Eboue and Walcott have all returned to training.
Lauren isn’t fit enough to start though so Eboue will keep his place. Baptista could start in a more central role after being forced to play on the left in the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sheffield United.
Player to watch: Le God
Thierry marked his return to the team by scoring then winning a penalty for Van Persie to smash home.
He also has a great scoring record against Liverpool. If my memory serves me right then he has 9 goals against our Scouse cousions.
Match Facts and Previous meeting:
– Arsenal have won every previous FA Cup game at Anfield
– Arsenal have only played in the FA Cup at Anfiled on two previous occasions
– Arsenal won the last meeting between the two sides in the FA Cup 1-0 at Highbury in 2002
The last meeting between the two tams ended 3-0 to Arsenal…