Sunday, Feb 16 at 11:00 (EST), Liverpool FC will get their chance to sink Arsenal once again and simultaneously move on to the sixth ground of the FA Cup. Of course, there’s a few loose ends that need to be tied first; one being the Ivorian defender, Kolo Toure, who has had a bad streak of costing goals.
Wednesday’s Premier League game against Fulham was very narrowly won by the Reds, after nearly 90 minutes of poor defending all-around. Kolo Toure in particular became the focus of unwanted attention after scoring an own-goal and later when a serious miscommunication between him and Skrtel led to another Fulham goal. For however limp the Gunners were at Anfield when they lost 5-1, such mistakes as Liverpool produced against Fulham and West Brom won’t be acceptable tomorrow. Errors will be punished and should Kolo Toure make the starting XI, there will be rows of Liverpool supporters chewing their nails.
Brendan Rodgers has stated that he will field his strongest team – the same team that so convincingly beat Arsenal at home, perhaps with the exceptions of Kolo Toure and Jordan Henderson. Now that Daniel Agger has returned from his injury, Toure’s future as a regular starter has become far more uncertain. The Dane got a few minutes with the rest of his team as he was subbed in the dying minutes of the game against Fulham. Whether he will be fit enough to play the entire 90 minutes is questionable, but Rodgers’ side have definitely been strengthened by his return. Jordan Henderson on the other hand may not play because of his wrist. After colliding with a barrier last week at Anfield, Henderson broke his wrist and a surgery may keep him out of the FA Cup game. Instead, Joe Allen could make an appearance.
Despite Agger’s return, Liverpool is still dealing with injuries: Coates and Lucas are out, so are Sakho, Johnson and Enrique. Arsenal also have their share of valuable players out: Vermaelen is dealing with a knee injury, Ramsey is also out along with Diaby and Walcott. Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla is doubtful due to illness, while Mathieu Flamini returns from his three-game suspension.
With two victories and six points in the bag after their last two games, Liverpool is definitely on top. They absolutely out-played Arsenal and that memory will still be very fresh in the memory of Arsene Wenger’s players. The FA Cup will not be a priority for Arsenal since they have a monumental Champions League game against Bayern Munich coming up next week. Tomorrow’s game will be a chance for them to rest some players after the two big Premier League games against Liverpool and Manchester United. This will suit Brendan Rodgers well who has every intention of going after silverware in the tournament.
If Liverpool FC can start quick and strong, perfecting their pressure, like they did against the London team just a week ago, they will come out victorious once again. Arsenal’s top players couldn’t hold their ground against the Reds’ deadly attacking trio, and so it will be a task for the B-team to say the least.