December has traditionally been a difficult month for Liverpool, and they have managed to follow suit this year with a string of underwhelming performances. They started to turn a corner of sorts at Old Trafford, however, with more fluid and threatening attacking display (that produced zero goals, but still, silver linings) as part of a new formation from Brendan Rodgers. The tinkering continued in the League Cup on Wednesday night in a fixture that many expected Liverpool to lose, but Rodgers' new-look side emerged 3-1 winners after an excellent first-half display.
And now they'll look to continue whatever sort of progress it is they're making against Arsene Wenger's Arsenal squad, who were comfortable winners last weekend against Newcastle. Their season hasn't been much better than Liverpool's domestically, with a number of underwhelming performances littered throughout the fall. Despite that, they're poised to make another strong challenge at the top four, and will expect to be in the running for Champions League football yet again come May.
They'll have to get more players healthy, though, as Wenger is dealing with a number of high-profile absences. Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, and Laurent Koscielny aren't expected back until the new year, with Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil expected back further into 2015. Theo Walcott, Nacho Monreal, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could make the squad tomorrow, however, joining an eleven that will be led by Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, and Santi Cazorla going forward. Mathieu Flamini will likely start in the midfield, and at the back against Newcastle, Wenger selected Hector Bellerin at right-back, Per Mertesacker and Mathieu Debuchy central, with Kieran Gibbs at left-back and Wojciech Szczesny in goal.
Toure Skrtel Sakho
Henderson Gerrard Lucas Markovic
Lallana Sterling Coutinho
Back to a fair few names on the injury list, with Joe Allen reportedly ruled out and Dejan Lovren not likely to recover in time from a groin injury. Glen Johnson is out with Daniel Sturridge, while Suso and Jon Flanagan are still a ways off. Mario Balotelli will be in the stands after accepting the FA's one-match ban.
Rodgers appears set to continue with the formation and personnel that brought him more attacking success over the past two matches, with three at the back and a number of pacy, creative players involved in some capacity. For all their defensive frailties Liverpool have looked more dangerous going forward against both Manchester United and Bournemouth, and while Arsenal are a different prospect than both, Rodgers could go with what he knows--or at least thinks he knows--best.
That will mean Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling, and Philippe Coutinho up top, with the recently-named Golden Boy continuing to operate in a striker's role. He was more assured midweek but still fluffed a chance or two, and he'll have to make the most of any chances here if Liverpool are going to get the result. Lallana has been Liverpool's best this week and for most of the season and should be a nailed-on starter indefinitely, while Coutinho looked dangerous in spurts on Wednesday after a mixed bag against United.
It will be interesting to see if Lazar Markovic gets another start; Alberto Moreno would be the obvious choice to replace him, but with the young Serbian impressing over the course of his last three or four appearances, there's little reason to keep him out, even if it's in an unfamiliar role. Again, Arsenal will be far better at exploiting space on the wings than Bournemouth, who still did it with frightening regularity, but Rodgers will hope Markovic is up to the task on the left with Jordan Henderson expected to start on the right. Lucas and Steven Gerrard are likely to start in the middle.
At the back there should be a start for Mamadou Sakho, and he'll join Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure across a three-man back line. Brad Jones is expected to start in goal, with Simon Mignolet benched for the third straight match. Few others available in a defensive contingent limited by injury, poor form, and manager's preference.
Kickoff is set for 4:00PM GMT/11:00AM EST on Sunday, with Sky Sport 1 providing coverage in the UK and NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra carrying the match in the United States. Our coverage will continue with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into live coverage, team sheets an hour before kickoff, and post-match reaction. If you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation account and join us for it.