FA Cup Preview: How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Arsenal on Sunday
Just over a week after their impressive 5-1 Premier League demolition of Arsenal at Anfield, Liverpool travel to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsene Wenger’s men in an FA Cup fifth round clash this Sunday.
This clash comes in a crucial period of fixtures for Arsenal, after their uninspiring 0-0 draw on Wednesday against Manchester United, and ahead of their daunting Champions League round of 16 clash against Bayern Munich next Wednesday.
After a hard-fought last-minute win over Fulham this midweek, Liverpool enter this FA Cup tie in high spirits and in good attacking form, and looking to take advantage of their lack of European action to finish the season strongly.
With Arsenal’s fixtures coming thick and fast, Wenger may opt to change around his team, and Brendan Rodgers will know that the FA Cup represents a good opportunity for silverware in his second campaign at Anfield.
With this in mind, here is a starting XI for the Reds to field against Arsenal. Let us know your picks in the comments below.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Brad Jones has played in Liverpool’s previous FA Cup ties, but regular No. 1 should reclaim his place between the posts for Sunday’s trip to Arsenal.
Mignolet himself has been in relatively inconsistent form of late, but his first-team experience and shot-stopping should come in handy against a dangerous Arsenal attack.
Right-Back: Jon Flanagan
Sometimes, youth does have its advantages.
Jon Flanagan has only recently returned to first-team action following an injury layoff, but his form as Liverpool’s current starting right-back means he can’t be dropped for a crucial tie against one of England’s biggest teams.
Rodgers will be looking at Flanagan to build on his excellent display against Arsenal last time round, to stifle an Arsenal attack and midfield that have a point to prove.
Left-Back: Aly Cissokho
Our selected back five for this match will remain unchanged from the past few Premier League games, and as such Aly Cissokho will reprise his starting left-back role against the Gunners.
Previously one of the Reds’ biggest liabilities in defence, Cissokho has improved massively in recent weeks and has been one of their most solid defenders.
He shut out Arsenal’s right flank last week. The Emirates will prove a whole different kettle of fish.
Centre-Back: Martin Skrtel
Two goals against Arsenal, then a costly mistake against Fulham: Which Martin Skrtel will we see this Sunday?
Brendan Rodgers has publicly credited Skrtel for his resurgence to prominence this season, via the Guardian, but he is still capable of maddeningly frustrating inconsistencies in the heart of the Liverpool defence.
Centre-Back: Kolo Toure
An unfortunate fact of football is that mistakes will often dominate the headlines and overshadow any otherwise decent performance.
Kolo Toure is a shining example: A normally solid centre-back, who signed for Liverpool last summer, started the season in the first team and was noted for his experience and strength, who has come under strong criticism in recent weeks because of two glaring mistakes in an unfamiliar left-sided centre-back position.
Such is football.
Daniel Agger made his return against Fulham, so he should return to the side as soon as he is match fit. For Arsenal, however, Toure keeps his place.
Holding Midfielder: Steven Gerrard
Seven Premier League goals and nine assists this season: There’s still a lot of life in the old dog.
Steven Gerrard has started to settle into his holding midfield role since being moved there at the start of the year by Brendan Rodgers.
As his experience and stature in the game look to be crucial in the young Reds dressing room as they target a strong finish to the season, he will provide leadership and experience in a tough away match at the Emirates.
Central Midfielder: Joe Allen
So far, not much has changed in our FA Cup lineup. But surely some players have to be rested from regular Premier League action?
So it’s Philippe Coutinho who gets a well-deserved break from his recent exertions for the first team, and into the team comes Joe Allen, who will look to a good 90 minutes of match fitness.
Against a passing and possession-dominant side at home, Allen’s ball retention will be important for Liverpool to hold their own.
Attacking Midfielder: Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson continued to live up to his strong-willed reputation as he played through the Fulham match with a cast on his broken wrist, which he sustained in the win over Arsenal.
But it was his effervescent harrying and constant chasing of the ball that so effectively denied the Gunners the space to build play from the midfield last week, so we pick him for another start on Sunday for another energetic performance from the No. 14.
Right Forward: Raheem Sterling
Will it be Kieran Gibbs or Nacho Monreal who starts at left-back for Arsenal?
Either way, both options will come up against the exciting and in-form Raheem Sterling, who should start after a series of impressive displays, including a goal against Arsenal last week, that might just lead to a place in Roy Hodgson’s England World Cup squad.
Sterling’s already given a few Premier League left-backs a torrid time. He’ll look to do the same against Arsenal, especially if Arsene Wenger does rest a few players.
Left Forward: Luis Suarez
After an encouraging appearance off the bench, perhaps Joao Carlos Teixeira would be a popular choice to get the nod this Sunday.
Hold your title-chasing horses.
With Arsenal low in morale and perhaps a season-defining Champions League crunch tie against Bayern Munich coming up, Luis Suarez should continue in his left-sided forward role to give as much pressure to the Gunners midfield and defence as possible.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge
You can’t keep a good man down. And not even Brendan Rodgers should.
With Daniel Sturridge in such hot goal-scoring form—scoring in seven successive league games—it might turn out to be an opportunity missed if Rodgers doesn’t continue with the Premier League’s second-highest scorer in his lineup.
It worked well enough last weekend. Don’t bet against Sturridge scoring yet again.