Arsenal – Liverpool Preview: Wenger and Rodgers battle for top four spot

Thomas Vermaelen should be back in the Arsenal defence after missing out against Brighton with an ankle injury.

Mikel Arteta (calf) is scheduled to return for the game, but either Abou Diaby or Aaron Ramsey may play instead with the Spaniard lacking full match fitness.

Francis Coquelin (hamstring) may well miss out for the hosts, as will reserve goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski (ankle). Gervinho is absent as he is on international duty with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Some of Liverpool’s younger players may be dropped by Brendan Rodgers after the manager said he felt “let down” by them during Liverpool’s shock 3-2 FA Cup defeat away to Oldham on Sunday.

Jose Reina (hip) is expected to miss out, so Brad Jones should keep his place despite a bad mistake to gift Oldham their second goal.

Andre Wisdom will probably continue at right-back in the absence of Jose Enrique, with Glen Johnson filling in at left-back – although Johnson himself is struggling with a hamstring injury.

Martin Kelly (knee) is a long-term absentee, and is only expected back at the end of March.

  • The Gunners only have one win (West Ham) from their last four league games, drawing with Southampton and losing to Chelsea and Manchester United.
  • Arsene Wenger’s side have also lost two of their past five league home games, but won the other three.
  • Theo Walcott (pictured, right) leads the club’s goalscoring charts with 17 in all competitions, and has just signed a new deal with the club.
  • Liverpool’s away league form has been poor this season, with three wins, four draws and four defeats.
  • Brendan Rodgers’ side have lost three of their last five away games, but have won the other two.
  • Luis Suarez is integral to liverpool’s goal output – he has 21 in all competitions, and his nearest team-mate is Steven Gerrard with just six.
  • Both Arsenal and Liverpool have conceded fewer goals than league leaders Manchester United, but are 19 and 22 points behind them respectively.
  • Liverpool won 2-0 at the Emirates in the league last season courtesy of an Aaron Ramsey own goal and a Luis Suarez strike.

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