On Saturday a monster clash takes place at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal host Liverpool (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
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The Gunners have won six on the spin and a win over Liverpool will see them momentarily climb into second spot, while fifth-placed Liverpool slipped five points behind Manchester United in the race for a top four place after their 2-1 defeat to the Red Devils before the international break.
Below is how I see the two sides lining up from the start on Saturday. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.
Arsene Wenger has some interesting decisions to make on Saturday, as he has an abundance of attacking players to choose from now that everyone is back fit. Mesut Ozil could have been the odd man out but Danny Welbeck’s injury for England in midweek means Ozil, Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez will likely be tasked with tormenting Liverpool’s three-man defense. As for Arsenal’s defense, new-signing Gabriel could miss out to Per Mertesacker (I’d go for Gabriel) while Nacho Monreal should get the nod over Kieran Gibbs at left back. In midfield, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin should start in the center but any of Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky or Mathieu Flamini could easily slot in. Simpy put, Arsenal has a bunch of options everywhere you look but expect them to line up in a familiar 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation.
— Ospina —
— Bellerin — Koscielny — Gabriel — Monreal —
— Cazorla — Coquelin — Ramsey —
— Ozil — Giroud — Sanchez —
Without Martin Skrtel in defense following his suspension for stamping on David de Gea, Liverpool could be opened up pretty easily. The big question here is, does Dejan Lovren or Kolo Toure come in to central defense? Or maybe even Glen Johnson or Albero Moreno slotting back into a full back position to make it a flat back four? I think Brendan Rodgers will stick with the three-man defense and the 3-4-3 formation which has served his team so well since the turn of the year. Up front Daniel Sturridge could be missing through injury but Rodgers believes the England international could be fit for the match. If Sturridge doesn’t start, expect Mario Balotelli or Raheem Sterling to move into the central role. Adam Lallana and Lucas Leiva have recovered from injuries to boost the Reds’ midfield options as Steven Gerrard starts his suspension following his red card against Manchester United.
— Mignolet —
— Can — Lovren — Sakho —
— Lallana — Allen — Henderson — Moreno —
— Sterling — Sturridge — Coutinho —