Revenge will be the order of the day when Arsenal host Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round, some eight days after the 5-1 hammering at Anfield. And with the Champions League clash against Bayern Munich scheduled for Wednesday, Arsene Wenger cannot afford to field his strongest line-up on Sunday afternoon, unlike his counterpart, who will have some important players back to the side.
It has just been revealed that Arsenal could have spent up to £140 million on transfers as Arsene Wenger had this money available to use on new signings, so no wonder the fans are once again blaming the Professor for the lack of transfer activity that could derail what looked like a very promising season. With Olivier Giroud struggling up front, Wenger has probably lived to regret his decision not to sign a new striker in January, especially with so many quality forwards changing clubs in the winter transfer window at bargain prices. The Gunners find themselves in a difficult position following setbacks against Liverpool and Manchester United, with the busy schedule yet to ease off. The hosts will obviously give their best to get their season back on track and get revenge on Liverpool by beating the Reds on Sunday, but they will also have one eye on Wednesday’s clash with Bayern Munich. As a result, there should be quite a few changes to the starting line-up, with Chamberlain, Podolski, Fabianski and Monreal pushing for starting places. Meanwhile, Mathieu Flamini returns from suspension, but Santi Cazorla looks set to miss out through illness.
In spite of some impressive showings in the opening exchanges, Liverpool were rarely mentioned as one of the candidates for the Premier League title, with the lack of strength in depth often cited as a potentially big problem for Brendan Rodgers. However, even with some important players on the sidelines, the Reds managed to keep the results respectable and with 12 games to go they sit mere four points behind leaders Chelsea. The 5-1 triumph over Arsenal was probably their most accomplished performance of the season, but rather than resting on their laurels Liverpool impressed to twice come from a goal behind and record a very important victory over Fulham. With no European distractions, Brendan Rodgers has a courtesy of fielding his strongest line-up for the FA Cup game against Arsenal, which should give the visitors the upper hand. Daniel Agger is expected to take his place in the heart of defence having recovered from injury, but Glen Johnson is unlikely to be risked and Jordan Henderson is doubtful with a wrist problem. Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique and Lucas Leiva remain on the sidelines.
Arsenal may be eager to exact vengeance on their Premier League rivals, but the Gunners are well aware they cannot afford to go all guns blazing at Liverpool since they can be deadly on the break. And with the Reds also expected to adopt a cautious approach, betting on half-time draw looks a good option here.
Verdict: Half-time Draw
Best Odds: 13/10