Liverpool head to Arsenal on Wednesday looking to record their first victory this seasons against a side above them in the Premier League standings. It is a grim statistic for a club of Liverpool’s standing and shows the scale of the task in front of Brendan Rodgers.
But the Liverpool boss will be under no illusions of his challenge, especially after witnessing his side go down to League 1 outfit Oldham in the FA Cup on Sunday.
After the 3-2 defeat, Rodgers lamented the lack of depth in his squad. Most apparent was that there is still a huge reliance on Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard.
There are efforts underway to rebuild the squad, but even Rodgers admits it will take time.
Recent arrival Daniel Sturridge was poor against Oldham, but has shown early signs of adding a new dimension to their attacking play, while the club has also completed the signing of Brazilian attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
There has been no such hope provided in the January transfer window for Arsenal fans thus far as Arsene Wenger has continued to stress that that he is happy with his squad and that there are not the players out there to improve it.
One of the reasons Wenger appears so confident is that the club have managed to avoid the usual flurry of injuries that has blighted them for so many seasons.
“I have never been in this situation in January, with so many players available or so few injured,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “So touch wood, let’s hope it continues.
“Is it down to better prevention, is it down to being managed better in the rotation of players? I don’t know, but overall the situation is good.”
Thomas Vermaelen is back in contention after recovering from an ankle injury, while Jack Wilshere, Santo Cazorla and Theo Walcott should be refreshed after beginning Saturday’s FA Cup victory over Brighton on the bench. Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta remain sidelined.
Coutinho will not be available for the trip to the Emirates and could instead make his Liverpool debut at Manchester City on Sunday. Rodgers will have Pepe Reina, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson all available for selection.
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs
M: Wilshere, Diaby
Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski
D: Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique
M: Lucas, Gerrard
Downing, Henderson, Suarez
Prediction: As Arsenal showed against West Ham and previously against Newcastle, when they are given space to play they can be devastating going forward. Liverpool will have to defend stoically and Lucas Leiva could be key in midfield.
Arsenal’s defense remains brittle and Liverpool’s new-look attack certainly has the potential to cause problems at the other end. But Liverpool have fallen short against the best sides this season and the physical presence of the in-form Olivier Giroud may well be crucial in unsettling Liverpool’s back line.
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
Where to watch: The Premier League clash will kick-off from the Emirates at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.