Premier League preview: Liverpool v. Arsenal
There’s more than enough on the line to go around as Arsenal travels to Anfield to take on Liverpool at 12:30 p.m. ET live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.
While unbeaten Liverpool is in a high-profile battle for the Premier League title - leading Tottenham by six points and Manchester City by seven - Arsenal is also deadlocked in a fight for a Champions League place. Unlike Liverpool though, Arsenal owns a deficit in its battle, two points behind and looking up at fourth-placed Chelsea.
[ WATCH LIVE: Liverpool vs. Arsenal live on NBCSports.com ]
Much of that deficit is down to a defensive crisis facing the Gunners, and they’re still in the midst of their injury troubles. Rob Holding is a long-term absentee, while Hector Bellerin will also miss out and the status of both Nacho Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi is unclear. Laurent Koscielny is in line to play, however, after suffering a small foot injury last time out and will likely partner with Sokratis yet again in central defense.
Aside from the defensive frailties, Mesut Ozil did not make the trip north and will not be available for Arsenal after suffering a knee injury against Brighton, withdrawn from that match at halftime. He looked sluggish throughout the opening 45 minutes of that game, and the Gunners attack was slightly neutered without him at full strength.
For the Reds, James Milner will be unavailable yet again due to a leg injury that kept him out of the Boxing Day win over Newcastle, but otherwise they are near full strength. Jurgen Klopp partnered Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum in central midfield as Liverpool slammed Newcastle, but with the festive period jammed full of fixtures, it’s possible that Naby Keita or Fabinho - or both - find the starting lineup this time around.
What they’re saying
Klopp on leading the PL table: “Not much [has changed], really. We didn’t think about the distance to other teams before [leading] it because it is just too early to think about it. If we are six points ahead with one game to go it is a big moment! In the moment, nothing happens.”
Emery on Liverpool winger Salah: “We spoke about the possibility to sign Salah to Paris St Germain when he was playing at Roma. We had some doubts - and then he signed for Liverpool and these doubts he has broken at Liverpool. Now, if you are speaking about the five top players in the world, one is Salah.”
With Liverpool continuing to prove difficult to stop, Arsenal’s defensive difficulties will play right into the Reds’ hands. Still, the Gunners have improved their team unity under Unai Emery and will be a tough out for the Reds. Fixture congestion can throw results into the mixer, and this one finishes in a 2-2 draw after an exciting match.