Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Kickoff: Sunday, 11 AM EST
Emirates Stadium, North London
TV: Fox Sports 2 and foxsoccer2go
SBN Liverpool Coverage: The Liverpool Offside and Anfield Asylum
Eight days ago, Liverpool welcomed Arsenal to Anfield and promptly dropped an Audi Quattro on the Gunners, going from 0 to 4 in 20 minutes. It was gnarly. It was not kind.
On Sunday, back in London, Arsenal will look to advance to the FA Cup quarterfinals by returning the favor. It will take quite a bit more solidity than they showed last weekend. The double pivot--which is likely to feature Mathieu Flamini--will have to show discipline and work to keep Liverpool from overrunning the defense; the fullbacks will have to stay sharp and not allow themselves to roam upfield without making sure there isn't too much space behind, as Liverpool obviously have the pace and vision to take advantage.
In fact, Arsenal should probably just do what they did when they won against Liverpool this autumn at the Emirates, but that is easier said than done, because Aaron Ramsey, a big piece of that victory pie that day, is still out through injury. Santi Cazorla will join him on the list of those unavailable, as he's been unable to shake whatever illness he picked up in midweek.
Glen Johnson is the main missing man for the Reds, who otherwise will be more or less at full strength. The question is how much Messrs. Wenger and Rodgers want to risk in an FA Cup tie; will Wenger deploy the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Carl Jenkinson, or will he use the dog-tired Olivier Giroud again at center forward? Will we ever see Lukas Podolski again, and will it be on the left tomorrow in place of Cazorla (please, I hope so?) Will Serge Gnabry start on the right, or does Wenger try Tomas Rosicky or Jack Wilshere out there instead?
It seems likely that if anyone will be rested, it's Giroud and Wilshere; they both struggled on Wednesday. A possible formation for you to debate:
Jenkinson - Mertesacker - Koscielny - Gibbs
Flamini - Arteta
Gnabry - Ozil - Podolski
Wenger spent much of his presser talking up Steven Gerrard, but I'm really much more worried about Flamini leaving Arteta all alone against Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling. We shall see if the lessons learned last weekend have borne fruit, or if Arsenal are just headed back to the same old moldy oranges.