Arsenal v Liverpool: Match Preview

Venue: Emirates Stadium   Date: Sunday, 21 December Kick-off: 1600 GMT

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Arsenal Likely Line Up (4-4-2)

Almunia
Sagna – Gallas – Djourou – Clichy
Denilson
– Fabregas(c) – Song – Nasri
Van Persie – Adebayor

Subs from: Fabianski, Silvestre, Eboue, Diaby, Ramsey, Wilshere Vela, Bendtner,

Liverpool Likely Line Up (4-5-1)

Reina
Arbeloa – Carragher – Agger
– Aurelio

Kuyt
– Xabi Alonso – MacheranoRiera
Gerrard(c)
R. Keane

Subs from: Cavalieri, Hyppia, Dossena, Babel, Benayoun, Lucas, Ngog,  Insua, El Zhar

Form Guide: Arsenal (5th) W9 D3 L5= 30 points  Liverpool (1st): W11 D5 L1= 38 points

Tactics Talk: Arsenal are likely to only one change to the side that drew against Middlesbrough and that is to recall Samir Nasri. It may also be tempting for Arsene Wenger to play Diaby ahead of Denilson out wide.

Liverpool could call back Aurelio and Agger but it is the selection of Robbie Keane that could be the biggest change. The Irishman will look to be the focal point of Liverpool’s pressure game, trying to stop the defence passing the ball out high up the field. Pressuring will be the order of the day and with tireless workers as Kuyt and Riera, they will be detailed to pressure right back to the full backs who would have been seen as weak links for it not for Walcott’s injury.

Arsenal can compensate for the lack of wingers through good movement which tore up the Reds last season. Though the Gunners haven’t been at their best there were some signs of the passing against Middlesbrough and by playing triangles and Van Persie dropping deep it will allow Arsenal to play such a way. The problem is Liverpool look to play in such a way though they will be equally happy just to counter Arsenal. Whoever wins the midfield battle is likely to come out tops.

If creativity is a problem for Arsenal, then their new found ability in the air which unfortunately was not evident against Boro, can help take away the tactic of constant pressure.

Key Men: Alexandre Song (Arsenal) and Xabi Alonso (Liverpool)
The impact these two men have on the game will give one a good idea on who the match will pan out. Song will have to be at his positional and covering best to stop the running and movement of Liverpool but especially Gerrard.

Much of that job will go to Mascherano for Liverpool and if the Reds gain a foothold in the battle for the centre, Xabi Alonso creative and dictating ability will be key.

Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool

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