Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Liverpool

Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday, August 20
7:45 a.m. EDT, 12:45 p.m. BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Martin Atkinson
    • Assistants: Peter Kirkup and Mike Mullarkey
    • 4th Official: Michael Oliver
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 1 - 1 Liverpool
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 74 Arsenal wins, 81 Liverpool wins, 55 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: L-W-L-L-D // D
  • Liverpool's League Form: W-W-W-L-L // D
Arsenal Squad News

Oh, good. A signing! Can he play left back?
Photo: Junior Gunners.
Out: Wilshere (ankle), Diaby (ankle), Gibbs (hamstring)
Doubts: Djourou (hamstring), Traore (groin)
Suspended: Song (first of three), Gervinho (first of three)

Who isn't hurt right now? The number of players Arsenal have lost just this week to either injuries, sales, or loans is quite staggering. Here is a breakdown of what has happened to the squad since last Saturday: Alex Song and Gervinho have been suspended, Armand Traore and Benik Afobe got hurt in a reserves match Monday, Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou got hurt in the Champions League match Tuesday, Cesc Fabregas was sold, Emmanuel Eboue was sold, Samir Nasri is all but sold, and Carlos Vela has been released on loan. That's ten players. Just this week. Almost all of it after the crowd was already singing "spend some fucking money" about bringing in players.

And that doesn't even cover the existing injuries. Abou Diaby is still out until September, but that's not my biggest concern. Jack Wilshere is wearing a protective boot on his ankle, and I hate to be pessimistic, but this situation is reminding me a lot of the Vermaelen injury last year. "He'll be back soon, it's not that serious" turned into eight months on the sidelines. Right now, I'm not convinced that Jack hasn't done his Achilles like Vermaelen did. God, I'd love to be proven wrong on this.

So, where does that leave the side for this match? Horribly thin, I'm afraid. Without Gibbs and Traore, the alternative at left back is to shift Thomas Vermaelen over and start Sebastian Squillaci in the middle, or hand a first Premier League start to Carl Jenkinson. Pick your poison; I expect the latter.

Alex Song's suspension will hand a first Premier League start to Emmanuel Frimpong, whose name lends itself so easily to chanting! I think Frimpong has tremendous upside, but there's a fear about having to throw so many young players in at the deep end already. Tomas Rosicky should start for the injured Wilshere and Andrei Arshavin will likely start for the banned Gervinho.

Predicted XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Frimpong, Ramsey, Rosicky, Arshavin, Walcott, van Persie. Pat Rice and Gunnersaurus on the bench. Oh, and maybe Ryo.

Liverpool Squad News

Out: Gerrard (groin), Aurelio (Achilles)
Doubts: Johnson (hamstring), Skrtel (calf)

Steven Gerrard has returned to light training this week after an infection interrupted the start of his season. Gerrard has not played since Liverpool's win over Manchester United in March after undergoing groin surgery. He could return to action in mid-September. Injury prone Fabio Aurelio looks to be out for a while as well with an Achilles injury.

Martin Skrtel has returned to training after a calf problem and is in contention to play, while Glen Johnson could return from a hamstring injury.


DDDWDDLWLLDD. It's not just an unpronounceable town in the Welsh countryside anymore! It's Arsenal's form in the league since last year's Carling Cup final. 12 matches. Seven draws. Three losses. Two wins. 13 points from a possible 36. Yes, we know this by now.

Liverpool had won six out of eight matches for a stretch at the end of last season (a stretch that included the 1-1 draw at Arsenal) before losing to Spurs and Aston Villa to close the season, presumably so they would not have to play in the Europa League again.

Match Facts

Arsenal and Liverpool drew both matches played last season. In the season opener at Anfield, ten-man Liverpool took a 1-0 lead shortly after halftime when David N'Gog beat Manuel Almunia near post. Arsenal leveled in the 90th minute, as Pepe Reina bumbled the ball into his own net. Liverpool got their revenge in the draw at the Emirates. Robin van Persie put Arsenal up 1-0 in the 98th minute from the penalty spot, but Emmanuel Eboue conceded a penalty shortly after and Dirk Kuyt equalized with the final kick of the match in the absurd 12th minute of added time.

Two years ago, Arsenal won all three matches they played with Liverpool. A Glen Johnson own goal canceled out Dirk Kuyt's opener and Andrei Arshavin gave Arsenal a 2-1 win at Anfield in December of 2009, while an Abou Diaby goal gave Arsenal a 1-0 win in the reverse fixture in February of 2010. Both of these matches came after Aresnal defeated Liverpool in the Carling Cup 2-1 at the Emirates in October of 2009.

Liverpool have not beaten Arsenal in league play in eight tries, though that streak includes six 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

Martin Atkinson shows Stiliyan Petrov
the world's most hilarious yellow card.
The referee is West Yorkshire-based Martin Atkinson. Atkinson took charge of six Arsenal matches last season, including the 1-1 season opening draw at Liverpool and the 2-2 season closing draw at Fulham. He also took charge of Arsenal's 2-1 win over Birmingham City at the Emirates in October, the 2-0 Carling Cup win over Wigan in November, the 1-0 Carling Cup loss to Ipswich Town in January, and the 3-3 draw at White Hart Lane in April.

For Liverpool, Atkinson took charge of their 1-0 win at Bolton on Halloween, a 2-1 loss at White Hart Lane, a 3-0 win at Wolves, and a 2-1 loss at West Brom, in addition to their 1-1 draw at Anfield with Arsenal.

Last season, Atkinson showed 143 yellow cards and 13 red cards, that red card total being the most among select group officials. He sent off two Arsenal players last season: Laurent Koscielny for two yellow cards against Liverpool (both in quick succession) and Jack Wilshere for a bad tackle against Birmingham.

Last week, Atkinson worked Bolton's 4-0 win at QPR.

Around the League

Arsenal's early kick-off on Saturday is not the earliest match of the weekend; the Tyne-Wear derby pitting Sunderland against Newcastle at the Stadium of Light kicks off at 7:00 a.m., noon in England. Only three matches kick-off in the 10:00 a.m. time slot as Aston Villa hosts Blackburn, Everton opens their season after postponement last week to host QPR, and Swansea plays their first top flight home game against Wigan. Saturday closes with Chelsea hosting West Brom at Stamford Bridge. What a tough start to the season for the Baggies United then Chelsea.

Three matches take place on Sunday; Norwich hosts Stoke early, Wolves host Fulham, and in the late match, Bolton hosts Manchester City. Tottenham finally plays their first match of the season on Monday as they travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.