How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Arsenal

Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Arsenal

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    Liverpool face their biggest test of the season so far on Saturday evening when they go to Arsenal, the only team in the Premier League to have amassed more points than the Reds during this campaign.

    Brendan Rodgers' side will go above the Gunners in the table with a victory at the Emirates Stadium, and they'll enter the game full of confidence following last weekend's 4-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion, surely their best display of the season so far.

    Luis Suarez's hat-trick and Daniel Sturridge's deft chip earned the Reds that impressive win at Anfield, but with Arsenal unbeaten in the league since the opening day, the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud are likely to present a tougher challenge.

    How does Rodgers play it then? And how will Liverpool's three-man defence work against one of the most vibrant sides in the league?

    Here's how the Reds are likely to line up on Saturday evening.

Simon Mignolet

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    West Brom's contentious penalty last Saturday meant that Simon Mignolet still hasn't kept a clean sheet since the three in a row in the opening three games of the season.

    Keeping one at the Emirates will be tough, and the Belgian will know that he is going to need to be at his best if Liverpool are to leave North London with a positive result.

    He can take inspiration from his previous visit to Arsenal though, when his string of fine saves helped Sunderland to a goalless draw there on the opening day of last season.

Kolo Toure

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    It is now over four years since Kolo Toure left the Gunners for Manchester City, and he's arguably in as good a level of form as he's ever been right now.

    The Ivorian owes much to Arsene Wenger of course, with the £150,000 the Gunners boss paid to ASEC Mimosas in February 2002 perhaps one of the best bargain transfers of modern times.

    Liverpool got him for free of course, and that decision continues to look better and better with every passing week.

     

     

Martin Skrtel

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    Brendan Rodgers has been hailing the "outstanding" performances of Martin Skrtel this week (Liverpool Echo), with the Slovakian's fine form still keeping Liverpool's vice-captain Daniel Agger out of the team.

    As the central figure in the Reds' three-man defence, Skrtel is likely to have a tough job keeping Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud quiet, and if he can do that then Liverpool will be on the way to a result which could inspire the rest of their season.

    Skrtel will be a key man on Saturday.

Mamadou Sakho

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    He played at Old Trafford in the diluted atmosphere of the Capital One Cup, but this will be Mamadou Sakho's first real taste of a huge Premier League game.

    The Frenchman has passed most of the tests he's been set so far, and up against international teammate Laurent Koscielny―who was picked ahead of him in France's recent internationals―he'll be eager to impress.

    Liverpool's most expensive summer signing has be quietly effective so far, and another solid display here will add to his growing army of fans.

Glen Johnson

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    Glen Johnson's return has been widely celebrated by Liverpool fans in the past two games, and his raiding from right back will be crucial again here.

    The England international is a vital player in this Reds formation, and if he can support the attack as well as contributing defensively then the visitors have a great chance to record a good result.

    He's slipped back into the team as though he's never been away and hopefully that'll continue here.

Lucas Leiva

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    Lucas Leiva started each of Liverpool's last three trips to the Emirates, games in which they remained unbeaten with a win and two draws.

    He won the last gasp penalty from which Dirk Kuyt equalised in April 2011, whilst it was a tackle on Lucas which led to Emmanuel Frimpong being sent off in Liverpool's 2-0 win in North London four months later.

    The Brazilian has history in this fixture then, and following his return to the team against West Brom after missing the Crystal Palace and Newcastle fixtures, he'll be a vital cog in the Red machine once more.

     

Steven Gerrard

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    The Emirates Stadium is one of the few stadiums he's played in in which Steven Gerrard has never scored, but if he is used in the slightly more advanced role he took up against West Brom then he could change all that here.

    Now with 100 Premier League goals to his name, Gerrard's last five league strikes for the Reds have all come from the penalty spot, with his last league goal from open play coming in the 2-2 draw at Manchester City in February.

    It's crucial that Liverpool take whatever chances come their way on Saturday, and so the skipper could be seen shooting from range.

Jordan Henderson

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    Along with Lucas, Jordan Henderson is the only other survivor from the starting lineup which earned Liverpool their only ever win at the Emirates in August 2011.

    The midfielder's record of appearing in every minute of every one of the Reds' league games this season remains intact following the West Brom win, and with midfield such a crucial area in this contest then he is sure to be a key man again.

    Henderson fought off several Arsenal challenges to put Liverpool 2-0 up in this fixture last season, before Arsenal hit back to draw 2-2.

Aly Cissokho

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    Jose Enrique's troublesome knee injury has kept him on the sidelines for the last two Reds games, but Aly Cissokho could keep him there for longer.

    The Frenchman was excellent against West Brom, a match in which he provided the cross for Luis Suarez's sublimely headed second.

    Like Johnson, he'll be looked to for width at the Emirates, and if he can get forward and contribute to Liverpool's attacks down the left then Arsenal could be in trouble.

Luis Suarez

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    Luis Suarez's performance in scoring his hat-trick against West Brom will perhaps go down as one of Anfield's finest striking displays, and now he'll have Arsenal in his sights.

    Following the Gunners' exhaustive and much-publicised efforts to sign the Uruguayan over the summer he is likely to receive a heated reception in North London, but it is what he does on the pitch that counts.

    Suarez came off the bench to score the second goal of Liverpool's 2-0 win at Arsenal in August 2011. Pitched in from the start this time, he'll have Gunners fans worrying about him already.

Daniel Sturridge

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    Having seen Suarez so spectacularly destroy West Brom last Saturday, Daniel Sturridge wasn't in the mood to be outdone. In the end he wasn't.

    The forward's stunning chip was his 21st goal in 27 appearances for Liverpool, a staggering record and one that even the very best on the continent would be proud of.

    He's in the form of his life and will be heading to Arsenal confident that that form can continue.

Ready in Reserve...

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    So Rodgers would be wise not to change a winning team then, but he'll have plenty of quality in reserve should he need it.

    Philippe Coutinho has returned to training with the team following his shoulder injury at Swansea in mid-September, but he is likely to start from the bench and will only be introduced if needed.

    The same can be said of Victor Moses too, as the Reds look for a little more steel in midfield, whilst there were substitute appearances for Martin Kelly, Joe Allen and Luis Alberto against West Brom last weekend, and all three could come into the action if they are required.