The domestic campaign gets back underway with a huge heavyweight fixture lined up for the Saturday lunchtime kickoff. Arsenal welcome Champions League chasing Liverpool in what promises to be one of the games of the season and a key fixture for the top 7 teams.
A win would take the Gunners into second place, at least until City play Crystal Palace on Monday, whilst a Liverpool win would see them make up ground on Manchester United, who currently sit in the all important 4th spot and face Aston Villa in the 3 o’clock kick offs.
Arsenal will be desperate to get their season going again after winning an impressive 9 of their last 10 league matches. This, and playing in front of their home fans, will ensure that they will come out the blocks quickly and they will feel confident that they can pick up 3 points. Although just 1 point adrift City, Arsenal are also only ahead of United by a point, and for their season to be salvaged after disappointing campaign in Europe they will need to finish at least 3rd.
Liverpool had been the team in form for most of 2015, but their loss to rivals United last time out on their home turf will have dealt their confidence a big blow. This makes it a must win fixture for Liverpool if they are to keep their Champions League hopes alive, and anything other than a win could see them slip down the table with Spurs and Southampton just a point behind and both having favourable fixtures. Liverpool will also have to manage without Gerrard, who picked up a red after just 38 seconds against United, as well as Skrtel who faces a 3 game suspension for stamping on David De Gea.
There is plenty at stake at this game, and not just for Arsenal and Liverpool. This is always a tantalising fixture and with both teams playing free flowing, attacking football it could be one of the games of the season. The reverse fixture finished 2-2 in December, but Arsenal will still have last seasons astonishing 5-1 loss (4-0 after 20 minutes) in the back of their minds and will therefore be hungry to deal Liverpool what could be a fatal blow in their quest for Champions League football
Danny Welbeck will be assessed ahead of the game after picking up a slight knee problem on international duty. Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Debuchy, Wilshere and Diaby have all returned to training, but they are not expected to play.
Liverpool duo Sturridge and Sterling should return from minor injuries, as should Lucas, but Lallana is a doubt with a groin injury. Gerrard and Skrtel both serve the 1st of their 3 game suspensions.