ARSENAL V. LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, April 3rd |
Premier League | Emirates Stadium
8PM BST/3PM EST
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have had uneven form, with the manager pointing to lapses in attention as a major issue for his side in his pre-Liverpool press conference, specifically referencing the goal conceded against West Ham as a result of a quickly taken free kick. He will hope Arsenal have fixed such issues in attention, as Liverpool have shown themselves able to take advantage of such situations in the past (though Divock Origi remains out injured).
Arsenal had some players involved on international duty, with potential first XI players Kieran Tierney, Martin Odegaard, Cedric Soares, Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all seeing call-ups for their countries, and putting in mixed performances (and minutes).
Almost all made it through without issue, though Bukayo Saka, one of Arsenal’s most promising attacking players, is a doubt with a hamstring issue; some reports from London suggest he’ll be fit for Saturday. In his press conference, Arteta noted that Saka has yet to train with the team.
Emile Smith-Rowe is also questionable, as he complained of a hip issue on international duty. While Arsenal have plenty of attacking talent available, both Smith Rowe and Saka have been young bright spots this season, and Arteta will want them available.
While Arsenal have fewer injury issues than the Reds, both sides have games in Europe midweek that might pull their focus, though Arsenal have a bit more of a rest as they do not face Slavia Prague until the Thursday, and have struggling Sheffield United next weekend.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Milner, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Mané
While the “first choice of the healthy lads” starting XI might still be our best bet, a large number of Reds got no rest over the international break, and with the first leg against Real Madrid on the Tuesday after the late kick-off on Saturday, it’s possible Klopp will look to rotate in at least one or two positions.
Roberto Firmino has returned to fitness ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Arsenal, and may well find himself back in the starting line-up — and he does love a goal against Arsenal. Diogo Jota, himself recently returned to fitness, may take the Brazilian’s place, but it’s also possible that manager Jürgen Klopp will prefer to have the Portuguese off the bench if needed, or to give either Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mané a rest. (Salah played over 90 minutes in two matches with Egypt, while Mané played one full match and put in another 36 over two matches for Senegal.)
Unfortunately, it’s still unknown when Jordan Henderson will return from his groin injury, so Curtis Jones — who made a “mistake,” according to Klopp, and picked up a red card with England U21s over international duty — could to continue picking up minutes in the midfield. Naby Keïta’s return to fitness, however, might push the promising young Scouser back in the midfield depth order.
Gini Wijnaldum might need a rest, as the midfielder is coming off of a busy international break, playing in all three of the Dutch national team’s matches (and putting in 97, 79, and 99 minutes in each of the three matches). As such, James Milner might see some minutes in the midfield as the retired English international has had some time to rest.
The same is true of Andy Robertson, who put in above 90 minutes in each of Scotland’s three matches — but Kostas Tsimikas, who picked up a slight injury on international duty with Greece, may or may not be fit, and Robertson, like Salah, seems to love playing all the minutes he’s allowed to have, come what may.
As so often has happened this season, Klopp’s personnel choices will likely heavily rely on physio opinions as well as context. For their part, though, Arsenal are the type of team Liverpool will want to play: Arteta’s Arsenal are not a side to sit back, and though they’ve shown bright spots of late, their form has been uneven with only two wins in the last five.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “We are not living in dreamland, but if you ask me what I wish for in the last period [of the season] then I’d say let’s go with all we have and have a look where it gets us. We don’t have a lot of points to waste anymore.”
Mikel Arteta: “Against these types of teams, with the quality that they have, they are going to punish you for every error that you do. Even when you don’t make errors and you do everything perfectly, they are still able to break your lines, to create an individual action and to score a goal. Obviously, it is a team where nothing has to be given to them.”
Referee: Stuart Attwell Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Sian Massey-Ellis Fourth official: Andre Marriner VAR: Jonathan Moss Assistant VAR: Andy Halliday
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, 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 the action as it happens.