Liverpool seek to get three times lucky when they face Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday evening. Without looking convincing in their first two fixtures, they've still scooped up all six points, which is more than can be said for the Arsenal, who lost their home opener to West Ham. The Emirates has been a difficult ground for Liverpool to play at historically. In the 10 years that the Gunners have called that ground home, Liverpool have only notched one victory. No defeat is fun, but surely the 4-1 drubbing that Liverpool received in the same fixture last season was particularly painful.
That was a low point for Liverpool (though, sadly, not the lowest of that season), but it coincided with Arsenal being on a fantastic run of form. The Gunners have not yet switched into first gear this season, so now is as good a time as any for a trip to the Emirates. Doubts and concern have roiled through the fan base about the way that Liverpool have set up in the past two games. A result, or even just a strong performance, on Monday would go a long way towards dispelling some of those fears.
As for Arsenal, they'll be without Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomáš Rosický. Alexis Sanchez and Héctor Bellerín were back in the starting XI against Crystal Palace, and the team seemed much more dangerous for it. Expect Wenger to field a similar side against Liverpool on Monday. That puts Petr Cech in goal, with a back line of Bellerín, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, and Nacho Monreal. In front of them should be Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla, and then nailed on starters Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil -- the stand out performer against Palace -- and Sanchez, with Olivier Giroud as the lone striker.
On Wenger's bench last week were Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta, Gabriel Paulista, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy, and David Ospina. The only difference may be the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain for Coquelin, who nearly got himself sent off last Sunday.
Predicted for Liverpool (4-2-3-1):
Clyne, Škrtel, Lovren, Gomez
Ibe, Coutinho, Firmino
As in the first two games, trying to guess Brendan Rodgers' starting XI is a complicated prospect. The biggest question surrounding his team selection is Jordan Henderson's fitness. It was reported earlier that Henderson's foot injury was not the fracture that some had feared, but it still remains doubtful that the captain will start in this match. If he plays at all, it will be coming off of the bench in the second half. As it stands, he looks likely to join Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge, and Jon Flanagan on the injury list.
This is potentially worrying news for Liverpool fans, as the Can-Milner midfield duo was markedly less effective than Thrilnerson in the forty-odd minutes we saw it debuted against Bournemouth after the skipper got replaced. But this time, should they have to attempt it again, they'll have had all week in training to work on the chemistry between the two midfielders.
While Adam Lallana hasn't performed up to standard, it may be him once again on the left if Rodgers deems Roberto Firmino not yet fit to start. There may also be shake ups in the back line. Though the manager is unlikely to change his preferred center back pairing of Martin Škrtel and Dejan Lovren, the news of contract negotiations between the club and Mamadou Sakho make Lovren's inclusion less of a sure thing. And finally, Rodgers may choose to start seasoned veteran left back Alberto Moreno over the inexperienced Joe Gomez in such an important and difficult game.
Kickoff is set for 8:00PM BST/3:00PM EST, with coverage from Sky Sports 1 in the UK and NBCSN in the US. We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.