Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has called for his side to make a statement of their quality when they take on Premier League leaders Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday. Liverpool currently sit eight points off top spot and Rodgers suggested earlier in the week that the title would be beyond them this season. Yet, despite falling to defeat against Arsenal earlier in the season, he is expecting Liverpool to give a much better account of themselves back at home.
“These types of games are the opportunities that allow you to make a statement," he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. “They are leading the pack; they are at the top of the league and we're one of the clubs that has been chasing them this season.
"We've been brilliant at home. The performance level from the players and the support that the fans have produced over the majority of the games has been outstanding. So it's another big game for us. I feel that the bigger the games are, sometimes, the better we play. Against Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Manchester United we showed that.
"We're really looking to show our confidence and belief and put in a performance that is going to get a win for us."
Liverpool, who were disappointed to drop two points at West Brom last time out, will again be without defenders Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson, who are set to return to training next week. Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva also remain on the sidelines for the Merseyside outfit.
Arsenal’s availability issues remain concentrated in midfield, where Aaron Ramsey and loan signing Kim Kallstrom face several more weeks out of action while Mathieu Flamini serves the second game of his four match suspension. There is some good news for Arsene Wenger, however, with Jack Wilshere back in contention. The England international will likely compete with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for a starting berth alongside Mikel Arteta in midfield following the former Southampton man’s two goals against Crystal Palace last time out.
The match at Anfield represents the first of four crucial matches for Arsenal in the space of 11 days. Also upcoming is another meeting with Liverpool in the FA Cup next weekend, sandwiched by a league meeting with Manchester United and the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich. The fixtures could well define the success of Arsenal’s promising season, but Wenger is eager to stick to the old adage of just taking each game as it comes.
“You always think about the psychological impact of the last result on the morale of the team, as well as the confidence and happiness of everybody,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. You think the only way to deal with it is to just focus on the next one and win it, then everything will be alright.
"And, if we can win this game, what about the next one? If we play at our best, yes we can win that, so let's do it. It is very difficult to have a global plan because as we know we are in a job that is unpredictable. The best way to make it predictable is to win the next game.”
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League contest will kick off at 7.45 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by USA, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.