Arsene Wenger brushed off talk of Luis Suarez as he prepares to take on a Liverpool side featuring the in-form forward at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Arsenal had two failed bids for Suarez this summer, with Liverpool steadfastly refusing to sell. And the Reds have been rewarded with Suarez firing six goals in four matches since his return to help maintain the Merseysiders place in upper echelons of the Premier League table. Meanwhile, without Suarez, Arsenal sit two points clear of Liverpool at the top of the league, helped by the goals and performances of a man who will likely have had his opportunities restricted had the Uruguayan arrived. And it was Olivier Giroud who Wenger was keen to focus on.
“I'm not focused on that now, what is important for me is that Giroud has proven since the start of the season that he's an exceptional striker,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website.
“They have different styles, [they are] different styles of players. Giroud is a real center forward who uses that space well, uses his power and is really central. Suarez is more a player who goes on the flanks, who comes deep into midfield and is more of a dribbler.”
Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from being knocked out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Chelsea in midweek. The loss was Arsenal’s second straight at home, both of which came in the absence of Mathieu Flamini. And Wenger has confirmed that the influential midfielder will again be missing with a groin injury, but that he has a chance of being fit to take on Manchester United next weekend.
The injury news is much more positive for Liverpool, with Philippe Coutinho coming back into the squad after missing six weeks of action with a shoulder problem. In the Brazilian’s absence, it has been the partnership of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge that has got people talking of a potential title challenge. Manager Brendan Rodgers, though, is eager to keep his squad’s feet on the ground.
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"I believe we are in a good moment," Rodgers said, according to Liverpool’s official website. "We have started the season as we would have wanted -- strong, putting a marker down that we're going to be consistent and after that early period, we've been playing very well.
"I think that we can get better and we can improve. We've got a lot of young payers that are still developing and improving. We won't get carried away. We'll have to keep our concentration and continue to work very hard on the training field.”
Rodgers will again be without Jose Enrique and Iago Aspas, while he has said that, despite reports to the contrary, Daniel Agger is fully focused on trying to win back his place in the side. As well as Flamini, Arsenal will also be missing teenager Serge Gnabry through injury. Mikel Arteta returns, though, after serving his one match suspension.
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
M: Ramsey, Arteta
Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla
D: Toure, Skrtel, Sakho
M: Johnson, Gerrard, Lucas, Cissokho
F: Suarez, Sturridge
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League clash will kick off at 1.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBC, with a live stream provided by NBC Sports Live Extra.