There's no question that the FA Cup has done all it can to recapture some of the magic from seasons past--no major giant killings or cupsets in the recent rounds, but with the top four sides in the Premier League facing off this weekend to go along with a handful of other interesting matchups, there's the promise of quality matches (at least on paper) to carry the competition into the Sixth Round.
Liverpool's trip to Arsenal comes at a funny time for both sides, though, as the hosts will have one eye on the first leg of their Champions League tie with Bayern Munch and their relative dip in league form, while Brendan Rodgers' squad will be hopeful on carrying momentum into next weekend's Anfield date with Swansea and a chance to continue their unlikely title challenge.
All of which could combine to make things a little less magical, and Arsene Wenger is reportedly set to make up to six changes from the side that faced Manchester United midweek. Santi Cazorla is apparently out sick, while Matheiu Flamini's ban is over, meaning he should feature for the first time in a few weeks. Wenger might also include the likes of Nacho Monreal, Serge Gnabry, and Lukas Podolski, and Niklas Bendtner and Lukas Fabianksi are also in the running for a spot.
(a not-even-close-to-happening starting eleven) For Liverpool :
Kelly Skrtel Agger Cissokho
Moses Aspas Ibe
Things are finally clearing up on the injury front; we'd been waiting for awhile, especially in defense, but with Daniel Agger making an appearance at the end of Wednesday's 3-2 win at Fulham and Glen Johnson apparently close to a return, things are looking up(ish). Jordan Henderson could miss out due to surgery on his wrist, while Lucas, Mamadou Sakho, and Jose Enrique will be on their way back in the next few weeks.
The lineup above is completely wrong in at least 8different ways, though I feel fairly certain that Simon Mignolet, Daniel Agger, and Joe Allen will play. The rest is a complete guess, largely dependent on whether or not Brendan Rodgers decides to give his regulars a break after a long stretch with a set eleven. It's almost certain they won't feature together, especially given that the changes above would require a completely new front six, but needed/deserved minutes for fringe squad members and a chance at recovery for others would be welcomed.
As noted, Agger and Allen look like they're the most likely to come in after starting on the bench at Fulham, with Martin Kelly a possibility as well. The others named above should at least all be in the squad, but I'd be surprised if more than one or two were actually in the eleven. It'd be nice to see Joao Teixeira and Luis Alberto feature, and Iago Aspas is overdue as well. Jordon Ibe and Victor Moses could play wide of Aspas up top, with Teixeira and Alberto playing in more advanced roles ahead of Allen.
But we're probably looking at Gerrard; Henderson, Coutinho; Sterling, Suarez, Sturridge, or at least three or four of them.
Kickoff is set for 4:00PM GMT/11:00AM EST, with BT Sport carrying coverage in the UK and Fox Sports 2 airing the match live in the US. Our coverage will start with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into the matchday post early tomorrow, which will have team sheets an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us--if you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation profile and stick around.
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