Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Liverpool (And a Trivia Competition!)

He's five-foot this many. Photo: Daily Mail.
Emirates Stadium, London
Sunday, April 17
11:00 a.m. EDT, 4:00 p.m. BST

Check the bottom of the post for your chance
to win a £100 credit at Classic Football Shirts!
  • Match Officials:
    • Referee: Andre Marriner
    • Assistants: Ron Ganfield and Adam Watts
    • 4th Official: Peter Walton
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 1 - 0 Liverpool
  • Reverse Fixture: Liverpool 1 - 1 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 74 Arsenal wins, 81 Liverpool wins, 54 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-D-D-D-W
  • Liverpool's League Form: D-L-W-W-L-W
Arsenal Squad News

Injured: Almunia (knee), Fabianski (shoulder), Vermaelen (Achilles)
Doubtful: Sagna (knee), Ramsey (groin), Rosicky

Szczesny may return from his finger injury, in an attempt
to prove he's more insane than Jens Lehmann.
Photo: Metro.
With Arsenal on the verge of yet another run of matches that will define their season (Liverpool, Spurs, Bolton, and United,) it is extraordinarily encouraging that players seem to be getting back to fitness at the right time. Cue this week's news that Wojciech Szczesny has returned to the squad from his finger injury and is available. And the news that Johan Djourou is in the squad, having recovered from a shoulder injury that was not as serious as first feared. Given Arsenal's track record, I think we had all safely assumed that both crucial parts of our defense were done for the season. Consider me pleasantly surprised.

On top of that, Alex Song will return from the knee injury that has hampered him since the Carling Cup Final, and, in less critical news, Denilson is also returning from a toe injury. Unfortunately, Bacary Sagna remains a large doubt with the knee knock he picked up before the trip to Blackpool. Manuel Almunia is back in training, but won't make the bench, so it'll be Szczesny if he passes fit or Jens Lehmann in goal. Aaron Ramsey remains a doubt with a groin injury and Tomas Rosicky is a doubt as well, though with what, I don't know.

Predicted squad: Szczesny, Eboue, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott, van Persie.

Liverpool Squad News

Injured: Gerrard (groin), Johnson (hamstring), Agger (knee), Kelly (hamstring)

Liverpool are without some big names in their squad, but you wouldn't know it based on the result they got last "weekend," thrashing Manchester City 3-0 at Anfield on Monday night. Captain Steven Gerrard's season is over; he underwent surgery to repair his injured groin in March and returned to training, but at that point realized the situation had not been resolved.

Liverpool are without three defenders as well, with Daniel Agger suffering a knee tendon injury in their loss to West Bromwich Albion two weeks ago and Glen Johnson nursing a hamstring problem that should see him out until at least next week. Full back Martin Kelly is also recovering from a hamstring injury.

They have, however, been boosted by the continued strong play of January acquisitions Andy Carroll and Luiz Suarez, both of whom are performing a lot better than the man they sold to Chelsea. Throw into the mix the fact that Dirk Kuyt is in form as well and Liverpool are a dangerous team once again. Since Kenny Dalglish took over in January, only Manchester United have picked up more points in league play.

Current Form

Arsenal had gone five matches without a win before last week's 3-1 victory at Blackpool, marking their first win away from the Emirates since mid-January as well. The Gunners are, however, unbeaten in 16 matches at the Emirates, during which they have won 12 and drawn four. They've also drawn their last two home matches 0-0, with Sunderland and Blackburn. Arsenal are also unbeaten in 14 straight league fixtures, but the run of three straight draws that was snapped last week is what has truly dented their title hopes. That being said, Arsenal can close the gap with Manchester United to four points with a win on Sunday.

As mentioned earlier, only Manchester United have picked up more points in league play than Liverpool has since Kenny Dalglish returned to take over the manager's role. In their last 11 league matches, the Reds have lost just twice; both were on the road and both were surprising, to West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion. Unfortunately, it's not West Arsenal, so we won't see if that's the reason for the trend on Sunday. Liverpool has gone from 13th in the table to 6th in the new Dalglish era. Also, note that 7th place will not be good enough for European football next year, as Birmingham City snatched a Europa League spot as they snatched a trophy from Arsenal.

Match Facts

Everyone, shush! A short Russian has something to say.
Photo: Telegraph.
The reverse fixture was the opening match of the year and the match at Anfield was 0-0 at halftime, with Liverpool reduced to ten men after Joe Cole's lunging attempt to block a clearance nearly broke the leg of Laurent Koscielny. Still, it was Liverpool who struck first, with David N'Gog beating Manuel Almunia near post. Arsenal salvaged a point thanks to Pepe Reina's blunder just before extra time. Koscielny then managed to pick up two quick yellow cards in stoppage time to earn his first Arsenal red card.

Arsenal beat Liverpool three times last year. In this fixture, it was a header from Abou Diaby in the 72nd minute that gave Arsenal the 1-0 win. A Glen Johnson own goal and a beautiful strike from Andrei Arshavin gave Arsenal a 2-1 win at Anfield last December and Arsenal had also beaten Liverpool in the Carling Cup 2-1 last October.

Liverpool have not beaten Arsenal in league play in seven tries, though that streak includes five draws. Liverpool's last win at Arsenal in league play came on February 13, 2000. There have been more hat tricks in this fixture than any other in the Premier League, which includes Arshavin's four goal performance at Anfield in 2009.

The Referee

The referee is West Midlands-based Andre Marriner, who I personally think sounds like some sort of soap opera character's name. In a bout of uncreativity, he'd probably be a sea captain, too. This will be Marriner's third Arsenal match this season; both prior matches were clean sheets kept by Wojciech Szczesny away from home. They were the 4-0 win over Newcastle in the Carling Cup in October and the 3-0 win over West Ham at Upton Park in January.

For Liverpool, Marriner took charge of their dreadful 3-1 loss at Ewood Park to Blackburn Rovers in early January, but by contrast, also took charge of their 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge over Chelsea in February.

Around the League

Arsenal makes up their game in hand over Manchester United this week, albeit under unfortunate circumstances. United will play Manchester City in the FA Cup Semi-Finals at Wembley on Saturday. The other FA Cup Semi-Final will see Bolton Wanderers take on Stoke City, in a match-up I'm sure everybody saw coming. With these four sides playing outside of the league, that means four other teams must be off this weekend. They are Tottenham, Newcastle, Wolves, and Fulham.

That means there are only five other league matches being played this weekend, and they're all on Saturday and they're all at the same time (10 a.m. Eastern, 3:00 p.m. in England.) Birmingham will host Sunderland, Blackpool hosts Wigan, Everton hosts Blackburn, Chelsea visits West Brom, and Aston Villa heads to East London to play West Ham.

These are the reverse fixtures of the season's opening weekend.

Gooners, it's competition time!

The Modern Gooner is running a competition sponsored by Classic Football Shirts, purveyors of excellent retro, vintage football shirts from throughout history for nearly as many teams as there are out there (and some that don’t even exist anymore, like Wimbledon). There are of course lots of sweet Arsenal tops if you look around the site.

All you have to do is provide the correct answer to the following question:

In the 1998-1999 season, Arsenal played in the Champions League for the first time. What was significant about their home matches?

Email your response to

The name of the winner will be drawn at random on Friday, the 22nd of April, and posted on the site, and that lucky Gooner will receive a £100 ($163) credit to Classic Football Shirts, which in this market is equivalent to something like $4000, so get your entries in (limit one per person). And of course, whether you win or not check out their site, their gear is really first-rate. Good luck, and may Dennis be with you.


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